Written in July 2016
In the wake of the Philando Castile and Alton Sterling killings, I immediately saw #EssenceBowman trending. Her name appeared in tweets like the one below calling for people to recognize the injustice done to Bowman
I instantly Googled the name "Essence Bowman", and there, to my dismay ( and surprise) ,was NOTHING. There was absolutely nothing on the woman who reportedly died in police custody. Subsequently, I turned to Twitter to discover the true story of Essence Bowman. Bowman's sister, Mel Gleeson, (whose username is @irreverentfash on Twitter), has been demanding that media outlets and activists share her sister's story.
On June 21, the police were called to a motel where Bowman was in Sulphur, Louisiana, because of a disturbance, according to Bowman's sister. Bowman was intoxicated and had been abusing pain killers. Bowman was also not taking her bipolar medication. Subsequently, the police arrested Bowman and put her in the police car. According to the police, Bowman somehow managed to escape from the locked police car and was fatally hit by a car.
The fishy thing about this situation is how did Bowman manage to escape a police car without the police aggresively chasing her? How was she able to escape the police car at all? Why would anyone who was intoxicated be running so fast that the police just decide to not chase her?
Additionally, the cops have not contacted the family at all, which makes this case even more suspicious. Only the hospital got in touch with the family.
I had a chance to speak with Mel Gleeson, Bowman's sister. Bowman was married to Gleeson's brother before they separated. The couple has three children together, and Bowman has another child from a different relationship.
Gleeson says, "Essence was sweet and soft spoken. When she was under treatment for her bipolar disorder, she was a hard-working mom." Essence has been aggressively seeking treatment for the past two years.
According to Gleeson, the only information that her family has is from Bowman's aunt demanding answers from Sulphur police. The Sulphur police claimed "she [Bowman] was strong", "she ran 100 yards", "she ran 200 yards", "the officer pursuing was out of shape".
How was Bowman able to be too fast for the police but not too fast for an oncoming car? How was she able to do any of that while intoxicated and on pain medication?
Instead of hearing of what happened to Bowman, her family was first contacted by the hospital that wanted to know if they could donate Bowman's organs. The police have still not contacted Bowman's family.
"I want people to know that she [Bowman] was loved. I want people to know that Sulphur Louisiana Police Department was responsible for her death. We want to know what really happened. Their version is missing significant details that could shed light on how a domestic disturbance became a death sentence", says Gleeson.
It has been two weeks, and hardly nothing is known about Essence Bowman. All that we do know is that she was a daughter, sister, and mother. She deserves justice. The fact that the police have failed to contact the family shows some duplicitous action on their part.
The fact that no news outlet is covering this is a constant reminder of the neglect that society has of black women. When the issues of black men in society are consistently brought to the forefront, the issues affecting black women in society become almost unknown. It is as if no one cares. The black women who are victims of police brutality are forgotten and overshadowed. It parallels black womens' role in society----neglected, hidden, alone, and abused.
Black women matter.