A Miami-Dade County jail is facing potential legal action after two transgender women said they were mistreated and humiliated at the jail following their arrests at a Black Lives Matter rally.
“Initially I think we can all say it was a very inspiring experience,” Viola, one of the arrested women, said of the rally. “Even through the rain, we were chanting, screaming our lungs out.”
But that empowering experience escalated into something more humiliating and degrading, according to Viola and Gabriela Amaya Cruz, a trans woman who was arrested alongside Viola. The women said officers started using excessive force and alleged Viola was pushed to the ground and tackled by two officers. Dramatic video shows the moment things took at turn at the protest.
More than a dozen people were arrested and all were transported to Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center where the women alleged things got worse.
“They had no idea to where to place me,” Cruz said. “And when they said my legal name, I had to raise my hand, obviously, because it was me. And that’s when it started to get like, ‘That’s not a woman, that’s a man,’ and that’s when things got very transphobic.”
A spokesperson for the Miami-Dade Corrections and Rehabilitation Department released a statement to NBC Miami saying, in part, that the department is “committed to ensuring that all inmates in our custody including transgender persons are treated appropriately throughout our intake, classification and housing placement process.”