Tuesday marked the fourth day that 1-year-old Damone Buckman spent without his mother, Jazmine Headley.
NYPD officers yanked Damone from his mother’s arms at a Brooklyn Human Resources Administration center on Friday, a brutal act caught on video that was the end of a ridiculous situation: Headley had gone to the office for child-care vouchers, and she sat on the floor because the room was so crowded. Security officers inexplicably called in the cavalry. Rather than resolve the situation, the cops escalated it, trying to yank Damone away and pointing a stun gun at Headley and the crowd.
The incident is a wince-inducing picture of how the system is horrifically rigged against a working mother.
Start with the low-key misery awaiting many New Yorkers when they interact with city bureaucracy. Headley’s mother, Jacqueline Jenkins, 50, says that Headley had taken off a day from work to go to the Bergen Street office and settle the child care issue. She waited for hours.
Then there’s the attitude of the police officers and agency security officers who responded and escalated the situation. These are hard jobs, and police make them even more difficult when sympathy and reason are thrown out the window.
And consider what kept Headley in jail. She’d been hit with the usual catchall charges like resisting arrest and obstructing governmental administration. The Brooklyn district attorney dismissed the case on Tuesday “in the interest of justice.” But then there is an unrelated New Jersey warrant due to a 2016 arrest regarding counterfeit credit cards. Her lawyer says she didn’t realize she had to return to New Jersey to deal with the matter.
In Headley’s case, the continued attention led to her release being ordered late Tuesday, days after the breast-feeding mother was separated from her son. What might have happened without video? Who else is struggling through the complicated and sometimes cruel world of NYC’s social services? The journey through that system needs scrutiny.