Ebony Ava Harper is a well-known activist in the Sacramento community.
She organized a memorial for Chyna Gibson, the transgender woman from Sacramento shot dead in New Orleans and later curated a mural in her honor in Midtown Sacramento.
Most recently, Harper was a protestor in the shooting death of Stephon Clark.
Last Thursday during protests outside of the District Attorney's office, Harper along with another protestor Melissa Price were arrested for "failing to disperse."
But it's what happened at the jail, Harper said, that left her traumatized. Harper said she was booked under a name she did not identify with.
"I was booked under my name previous to my name change and gender change," said Harper.
Harper adds that 'Ebony' is the legal name she has on her identification and social security cards, but the jail system had her previous name on record.
"They did not strip search me, but they did have a male guard search my body," said Harper. "I have some feminine parts and I just felt uncomfortable."
Sgt. Shaun Hampton with the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department said in a statement:
“Ms. Harper was never placed in a housing unit, she was placed in a holding cell by herself in the booking area of the jail. This cell was located on the male side of the booking area."
Even though she was by herself, Harper emphasized she didn't want to be on the men's side. Harper said her supporters contacted community leaders including Mayor Darrell Steinberg and county supervisor Phil Serna and word go to Sheriff Scott Jones.
Sgt. Hampton confirmed that information in the statement:
“Several people from the community contacted the Sheriff and requested he look into this matter. Sheriff Jones directed jail staff to verify she was going to be released, and then directed staff to ask her whether she would rather be placed on the female side or the male side until she was released. She indicated she would rather be housed on the female side, so she was immediately moved to a cell by herself on the female side. Ms. Harper was in custody at the Main Jail for a total of 2 hours and 9 minutes and at no time was she in danger or was her safety jeopardized.”
Upon release, Harper was greeted by a crowd of her supporters. A week later, she still said she is healing because the situation triggered a lot of trauma.
"It felt like my humanity was stripped on that day," said Harper. "I am human whether you agree or not and I needed to be treated as such."
Harper adds that as a black transgender woman, she feels she has even more social issues to fight for.
The rest of the statement from the Sheriff's Department is as follows:
“The Sacramento Police Department completed all of the booking paperwork necessary for booking Ms. Harper into the jail. This process includes entering the arrested persons identifying (including name) information onto an arrest report document. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department understands the sensitive nature of this situation and it is our chief priority to ensure the safety of every person brought into any of our facilities.”
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