Police Brutality - My Story
My name is Jonathan Hernandez, I am a person of color (POC) and I was a victim of police brutality.
Sunday, September 27th 2015: I was 18 at the time and I was walking down the street with my dog Achilles. I had been under the influence of psilocybin mushrooms was shirtless wearing fleece Joe Boxer pajamas. I remember seeing a police vehicle parked 2 houses down on the corner of the street. This wasn’t an ordinary sight so I walked to the car and asked, “Hi officers, is there something going on in the neighborhood?” In retrospect, that’s where I messed up. I’m a POC, under the influence, approaching 2 white cops and asking them if there’s something going on in the neighborhood. With the racism that exists its almost obvious what happened next.
I assume that these cops felt threatened by me because they aggressively responded by exiting their vehicle and asking me, “Is there a problem? Do you have a problem?” At this point my dog was barking at them as they were being obviously confrontational. I responded to the cops with me hands up, “Officers, I don’t want any issues. If it’s okay with you, I live down 2 houses down the road. I can go home and everything can be fine.”
The cops proceeded to treat me as a criminal and asked me to put my hands behind my back. I declined to listen to their requests as I felt like I had done nothing wrong. I instead asked them “Why are you doing this? Am I under arrest?” Instead of having a civil discussion with me, one of the cops grabbed me and slammed by body into the asphalt.
I broke my fall with my hands and tucked them under my body. At this point I felt that there was no way I was going to be arrested by 2 racist cops with no just cause. I can’t remember completely what happened at this time, but there was a struggle between me and the cops as they were trying to pry my hands from under my body and put me in handcuffs. I do remember having my face scraped against the ground, being tased, and hearing the officers tell me “If you don’t shut your dog up, we’re going to beat your harder.”
After what felt like 10 – 15 minutes, I had run out of energy to hold my arms under myself and allowed the cops to arrest me. They put handcuffs on my hands, shackles on my feet, and threw me into the back of a police car. I remember looking around and seeing at least 8 cops on the scene all standing around watching as these 2 cops assaulted me. They obviously knew I was under the influence of something because they repeatedly asked me what drug I was on. I never told them anything since it was almost impossible to be honest and transparent with the same people who just beat me for no reason.
Instead of being arrested for any crime, the Hollywood Police instead took me to the local hospital and admitted me under the Marchman Act. This act is used to protect people who are drug addicts who may be a danger to themselves or society. What a perfect law to abuse in this situation. Instead of assisting me, they took advantage of the fact that I was under the influence of some drug and brutally attacked me for approaching them. They were then able to admit me to a hospital with no issues.
There are many things that I could have done differently in this story and I’m sure you may feel some type of way because I told you that I was under the influence of mushrooms at the time. But the fact is that instead of being treated like a decent human being, these police officers acted treated me like an animal. I could have lost my life on September 27th 2015 and I strongly believe that my skin color had a lot to do with how I was treated.
These are photos of what I looked like the day after I was attacked. Note how unthreatening I looked as a shirtless 18 year old.
I feel like I didn’t die because I was put on this earth to make lasting change within our communities. I grew up in rural white America in the northeastern forests of Pennsylvania and I was no stranger to racism. I knew that everyone I met had an automatic preconception of me based on the color of my skin.
I felt the clear disadvantage of not being white in a systematically oppressive society and I pledge to make a change. That’s why High Vibrations will be donating 40% of all of our profits to black empowerment organizations that promote equality and justice. Please support in any way you can and thank you very much for reading my story.
- Jona Hernandez