A man who alleges East Point police officers called him “it,” “thing” and repeatedly threatened a genital search after he was stopped for a traffic violation received an apology from the city’s mayor Thursday.
Juan Evans, who was pulled over Oct. 23 by an East Point police officer for speeding and taken to jail where he said he was harassed by officers, told the GA Voice that Mayor Jannquell Peters offered the apology after a group of protesters marched to City Hall.
“The mayor gave me a sincere apology,” Evans told the GA Voice. “As I told her, that [apology from her] touched my heart. But to hear it from the officers would heal my soul.”
A call to the mayor’s office was not returned. Evans and other members of Solutions Not Punishment Coalition (SNaP Co) are set to meet with the East Point city manager and interim police chief today to go over police procedures.
Evans was pulled over by East Point police on Oct. 23 for speeding. He did not have his drivers license on him and he gave his birth name to the officer. According to an East Point Police report, when Evans gave the officer his birth name, the “officer was confused at this time because the driver appeared to be male … Officer asked the driver to step out of the vehicle and stand in front of the patrol car. Officer asked the driver still unsure at this time on gender since the driver does not have any type of identification and the vehicle registration comes back to another name.” At that time, Evans was arrested and taken to jail.
Approximately 50 people showed up to East Point on Wednesday to protest the alleged police discrimination. They first marched to the police department and then to City Hall. Everette Thompson, a spokesperson for SNaP Co, said he and fellow activists are demanding an apology from the police department.
SNaP Co also wants to work with the East Point Police Department on officer training when it comes to trans issues.
“In no way should genital search be used to determine a person’s gender,” Thompson told the GA Voice. “What happened to Juan, we knows happen often. This is all part of our fight.”
Evans said the rally and protest in East Point on Thursday was inspiring.
“It was awesome for the community to gather in unity and come together and stand united and as one with same demands,” he said.
Evans said he never wants what he went through to happen to anyone else and that is why he and SNaP Co are demanding justice from the East Point Police Department while also wanting to work with them so they can treat trans people they come in contact with with dignity.
“I just wonder how many other people have been humiliated like this at the hands of the East Point police. How many others were outed in their jail cell in front of other inmates? How could they out me like that?” Evans said.
“You can’t do that. Some sensitivity training has to be done. And gender is not the same as genitals; there is a big difference in that,” Evans added.
Thompson said some of the procedures SNaP Co would like to see East Point police implement include:
1. Under no circumstances should a genital search be used to determine gender. “Off the bat that is a no go,” Thompson said.
2. Officers use the preferred name of the person rather. “This is not a nickname or an alias. This is our name. And to use it is based on dignity,” Thompson said.
“We want to continue to dialogue so we can make East Point a safe place for all of us,” Thompson added.