They Accused Her Of Smuggling Drugs – And Risked Her Pregnancy

black woman standing aside as luggage is searched
Zain Murdock
May 30, 2022

In February 1997, Janneral Denson was coming home from a trip to Jamaica. But when U.S. Customs agents “suspected” her of smuggling drugs back into the country, she ended up handcuffed to a bed and detained for two days. But it gets worse.

Denson was about seven months pregnant at the time, but the agents still searched her body and forced her to drink four cups of a powerful laxative – NOT safe to use while pregnant – to look for drugs in her bowel movements. 

No drugs were found. But the consequences fell on her.

Eight days of bleeding later, Denson had to undergo a C-section, delivering her son prematurely. Still, years later, Denson was found “58% responsible” for the trauma she and her son endured!

But, like police shootings and prison brutality, this is a systemic issue. Denson isn’t the only survivor.

Studies show that U.S. Customs agents subject Black women to bodily searches more than ANY other group. Black women are 20x more likely to be “stopped and intensively searched” than white women despite being the LEAST likely to be found with contraband.

From the streets to airports to schools, Black women and girls face violent injustice everywhere, from all forms of law enforcement. Fixing this problem means dismantling the whole system to protect our communities.

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