A Hispanic woman was abused and arrested by police officers in Riverside, California, just for selling flowers and Hawaiian leis.
Riverside County Sheriff’s officials are investigating a damning arrest clip where a deputy is shown taking down a flower woman at the Perris High School graduation on June 6.
The video showed the cop approaching the woman and trying to snatch away her flowers. When the woman resisted and tried to get away from the officer, he grabbed her by the hair and body slammed her to the ground.
As she screamed in Spanish, the officer covered her mouth with his hand and then twisted her arms behind her back.
The terrified woman apparently wet herself and then angrily lashed out at the deputy, asking why he wasn’t locking up real criminals instead.
“Why don’t you get the gang members!” the woman yelled in Spanish, according to the Press Enterprise’s translation. “Why me? Someone who is trying to make an honest living?”
Unheeding, the deputy handcuffed her and kept her pinned to the ground until another officer came to assist him.
From the background, bystanders can be heard telling the woman to let herself be arrested and a man is heard saying, “We’ll get you a lawyer.”
Social media platforms are referring to the flower lady as Joaquina. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department identified her as Juanita Mendez-Medrano of Fontana, California.
According to the sheriff’s department, street vendors were cited by deputies for selling their wares without a city permit but when they came to Mendez-Medrano, the situation escalated.
They also said the short video of the arrest did not show the “full context or content of the incident” and Mendez-Medrano refused to cooperate with the authorities.
Emilio Garcia with the Inland Rapid Response Network, an immigration hotline, said the deputy used excessive force.
“Officers in theory are capable of controlling these kind of situations,” he said. “The video doesn’t show the woman being violent. It doesn’t justify excessive force.”
Mendez-Medrano believes she was arrested because of racism.
“My case is not unique, but it is now enough,” she said. “This racism has to stop. Please don’t stay quiet. Raise your voice. We have to defend our rights.”
Community members are expected to protest the violent arrest on July 22 at the Riverside County sheriff’s station in Perris.
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