everyday racism

I Was 9 Years Old When a Cop Pointed a Gun at my Face

'We were kids. Why would you have a gun in a kid’s face?'

NBCUniversal, Inc.

Portia Woodard, 36, is a school counselor and mother-of-two living in Augusta, Georgia. She is originally from Southern California. When she was 9 years old, the police answered a call about loud music in her home that ended with a gun being pointed at her face. This is her experience in her own words.

I was nine and my mom was married to her then-husband. He was playing his music really loud. 

We lived in an apartment complex. They asked him to turn the music down - they had asked him repeatedly. And he was hard-headed - he wanted to do what he wanted to do and that’s fine or whatever. But they ended up calling the police on him. 

Marvin came in the room and he told us if somebody knocks on the door, don’t answer the door. 

Ok, you know, we listen to the parentals. 

He went in his room and closed the door. And he’s still playing the music. And I mean, it was loud, but it wasn’t too loud, where it was disrupting everything. 

Next thing you know we hear a knock on the door. And we’re looking around and we’re thinking Marvin’s going to come to the door, and he doesn’t. And they’re like, "Open up, this is the police!"

Next thing we know, the door opens. 

So, what happened was the apartment manager allowed the police to come in our house. So, they didn’t break the door down. They were allowed to come in. 

We heard them open the door. I told my brother, "Hey, we gotta get in the closet. Come on, let’s go get into the closet." 

We closed the door. Next thing I know, the door opened and I had a gun in my face. 

And I said, "Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!" I had my hands up. 

And he never put the gun down. It felt like forever. 

But then he finally put the gun down and they ended up arresting my mom’s ex-husband and then they took us to Jamison. Jamison is where they keep the kids before they put you in foster care or if they can’t find a place for you. 

We sit there and there’s this little boy that was in the lobby, he was a little white boy, and he asked us, "What are you guys doing here?" 

And we were like, "We didn’t do anything." 

And he said, "Well, what did you guys do?" 

And we said, "We didn’t do anything." 

And we said, “What did you do?” 

And he said, "Oh well, I hit my brother in the head with a shovel." 

Me and my brother looked at each other and was like, okay. 

This week, I was full of anxiety and I thought about it and I said: Nobody was doing anything wrong besides playing music. So why are they coming in the house with guns out?

Why would they do that? We were kids. Why would you have a gun in a kid’s face?

Illustrations by Tony Pierce

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