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Disabled non-binary Black Lives Matter protestor violently arrested by police, misgendered and denied medical care

Vic Parsons August 7, 2020
Non-binary Black Lives Matter protestor 'violently detained' by police

Juniper Simonis and their service dog were violently detained by federal agents in Portland. (Instagram/JuniperLSimonis)

A non-binary, disabled Black Lives Matter protestor in Portland who was arrested by police has reported that they were misgendered, denied medical attention and separated from their service dog during a traumatic ordeal.

Juniper Simonis, 35, was taken into custody by federal agents in July. They’ve been part of the protests against racism and police brutality in Portland that have been ongoing for 72 days.

“(We) are there to put our bodies, and our lives, and our money and energy towards protecting those who are standing up for their rights right now,” they told the Washington Blade of their motivations for protesting.

Simonis was arrested on 10 July, three days after they attended a vigil for Summer Taylor – another white, non-binary Black Lives Matter protestor – who was hit and killed by a car while protesting on 4 July.

On 10 July, Simonis was drawing lines with chalk around the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in downtown Portland – so protestors would know when they were on federal property and could avoid trespassing.

They claim they were targeted by police for being “visibly queer and trans” and because their service dog marks them out as disabled. “I am a marginalised sitting duck in some respects,” they said.

As they were drawing the lines, Federal Protective Service and US Customs and Border Protection agents surrounded Simonis, threw them to the ground and handcuffed them.

“They do not say anything. They don’t say, ‘Stop.’ They don’t say, ‘What are you doing?’ They don’t say, ‘Get off our property…’ They don’t say anything. They just streamed out of the front of this building and snatched me,” Simonis said.

“As someone who already has PTSD, who already has almost been killed multiple times, including by someone grabbing me from behind, what I instantly get shunted into is a fight or flight response,” they added.

Simonis said that officers used mace, separated them from their service dog and detained them in handcuffs for an hour – denying them medical attention for the effects of the mace, which they say was sprayed at their face from such a short distance it was bruised – before taking them to a separate building.

They were released six hours later with petty charges against them, and await a court date.

They allege that they were misgendered throughout this time, and that despite having two pieces of ID legally identifying them as a woman the officers, and the medical report, repeatedly called them “sir”.

But while Simonis’ experience was traumatising, they are clear that it should not be centred as the protests continue.

“We can’t have everybody focusing on the white people getting kidnapped when Black people are still getting killed day-to-day,” they said.

More: black lives matter, non-binary, police brutality, portland, protests, racism

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