In September 2017, 18-year-old Anna Chambers was falsely detained and raped by two members of the New York Police Department in the back of a van in a Chipotle parking lot in South Brooklyn. While she was stumbling home, a friend collected her off the street and took her to the hospital where she underwent the humiliation and trauma of providing evidence for a rape kit. Incontrovertible physical proof of her rape was gathered against the two rapists: Richard Hall and Edward Martins. Despite this, all charges of rape were dropped against these cops March 6 — a fresh outrage against women and girls delivered by the so-called justice system.
The cops had pretended to arrest Chambers and had promised her they would let her go if she allowed herself to be raped by them. The only charges left standing against these brutal, dangerous men are taking bribes and official misconduct. As if Anna Chambers had not been a terrified 5-foot-2-inch, 90-pound teenager in handcuffs in the back of a police van, but rather a wily sorceress who seduced these upstanding citizens in an effort to corrupt their morality.
This is how the defense painted it in public anyway, planting photos from her social media in the New York Post and other tabloids in an effort to say the clothing she wore, the poses she made, etc., somehow justified her being raped while in handcuffs by two grown men with guns.
Cops murder with impunity in New York City. Eric Garner’s killer Daniel Pantaleo still collects more than $100,000 in salary per year while he remains in uniform. Now it seems the courts are sending the message that cops are able to rape with impunity as well. Anna Chambers refused plea deals because she wanted to see the NYPD on trial for rape, but the charges were dropped by the District Attorney’s office before a jury even had the chance to decide.
Chambers wanted to come forward in the spirit of the #MeToo movement to give other women and girls the courage to step forward. Instead, the NYPD sent a powerful message to women and girls across New York: We will rape you, torture you, drag your name through the mud and get away with it if you dare to defend yourself publicly.
Chambers possesses tremendous courage by speaking up, and her case helped pass a law in New York state that states the obvious — anyone in police custody cannot consent to sex with a police officer. In Anna’s case, she told cops “no,” but it didn’t matter. The armed guards of the state said she said “yes,” and that’s the story the state went with.
But consent is not necessarily about whether or not a person says “yes.” It’s about understanding the power dynamics involved in a situation and whether or not the person has the ability to clearly say “no.” With the NYPD’s history of wanton murder, theft, violence and rape, there is no way for anyone, much less a petite teenager in handcuffs, to give a real “yes” to a cop.
As Anna Chambers’ case moves into the civil trial phase, and as the cops threaten to bring charges against her, it is important for the public to stay aware and mobilized in defense of Anna and all survivors of rape.