All it took was one phone call to the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) police and one questionable witness to have 19-year-old Nubia Bowe arrested and assaulted by officers. Only thing is, she’s innocent of her charges.
On the evening of March 21, BART police responded to a complaint about young men dancing and soliciting money on a train. A witness identified the two men riding with Bowe as the suspects, so officers instructed them to exit the train for questioning. Meanwhile, other passengers tried to tell the officers they had the wrong people.
The witness later recanted, saying Bowe and her friends weren’t the perpetrators.
Yet Bowe was still handcuffed, detained, and beaten.
“Once they pulled me off the train, I was first slammed to the ground and then thrown against the wall,” says Bowe, who is 5’1” and 105 pounds. “The officers pushed me back down and continued to elbow and knee me in the back. My mouth was full of blood by then. The whole time this was happening, I repeatedly said, ‘I am not resisting arrest. You are violating my civil rights.’”
Bowe says she was taunted, battered again, and denied medical treatment and her phone call once she arrived at Santa Rita Jail.
“Three male guards and one female guard came in my cell and beat me up,” Bowe says. “They hit me and said that I assaulted one of them. So they chained my wrists to my ankles and tipped me over onto the urine-soaked ground so I couldn’t get up.”
Bowe was booked on one felony charge and three misdemeanors. She was held for four nights with a bail set at $120,000.
Although the felony charge has been dropped, Bowe has been kicked out of the Treasure Island Job Corps training program, where she was only two months away from graduating.
“This case represents another example of racial profiling by BART police,” says civil-rights attorney Dan Siegel, who represents Bowe. “Although the end isn’t as tragic, it’s similar to the Oscar Grant case. Some person made a complaint about dancing on BART, Nubia and her friends were not the people dancing, and yet, she still faces two sets of charges for allegedly fighting with police and resisting arrest.”
Bowe’s arrest happened only two months after BART police were caught on video tasering and using excessive force against a black man.
A trial date for the BART charges is set for Aug. 5, and the pretrial hearing for the Santa Rita charges is scheduled for May 19.