I went to jail for a crime I did not commit. I ran for Congress to fix it.
Updated: May 26, 2020
One night, I ran into DC attorney Christina McGlosson. She angrily asked me not to get on the elevator, and I, in turn, accused this white woman of a micro-aggression. I used those exact words. I said my peace and walked away, she chased me and went ballistic - spewing blatant racial slurs and confirming my initial accusation.
All over her hyper-aggressive dog.
Naturally, a fierce argument commenced one that resulted in me being punched in the eye. I spent nearly an hour talking with apartment security and Christina's family. Her brother-in-law was Asian and I needed to understand his acceptance of her racist actions. Days later, because I wouldn't agree to not press charges, Christina (a high ranking government attorney) filed false charges solely to prevent me from ever being able to hold her accountable for assaulting me - you never forget being punched in the face. In the eyes of the law, whoever files charges first is deemed the victim.
I will never get justice.
Christina filed these against the advice of her family and the safety officers at the scene. After reviewing the footage, my apartment complex told officers that charges should not be filed against me - I was not the aggressor, but in this instance the victim. I made the tragic mistake of not calling the police immediately after I was attacked. But, I was scared - like most Black people, I don't deal with cops unless it's life or death and I know my past. I've gotten into my fair share of confrontations, but none of that should have deprived me of being a victim and getting justice. This is the realization that haunts me the most about this incident - you don't have to be perfect to be a victim.
When you read the officer's charging documents, it is filled with racial code - belligerent. I was arrested three months after the incident, the day before I received a text message from DC Police's Congressional Affairs saying they could no longer investigate the officer in my matter - my case was now a criminal one. There is no way a Black woman suspected of choking a white woman in front of her family is arrested three months later. It should be noted, that Christina admitted to prosecutors that she did mean to say she was choked or threatened, but just she was "touched some way".
After my arrest, I went crazy pushing for reforms. VICE News documented my efforts. I built a national coalition of current and former prosecutors and public defenders and worked on legislation to get greater funds for court technology and public defense. I will never get justice - I have tried. And while I did not win my election, rest assured that I will spend my days advocating for criminal justice reforms.
Below is the original Medium post that launched my campaign for US Congress...
Last year, I went to jail for a crime that I did not commit — and it changed my life.
Now, I’m running for Congress in North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District.
I am the proud daughter of a military officer and public educator. Growing up, I was taught the value of hard work, service, and sacrifice. My family instilled in me that dreams become reality through grit, determination, and advocacy.
I have always been a diligent worker and I’ve never let obstacles get in my way. Law school was difficult for me and finding a good-paying job after was even harder. But I didn’t give up. I eventually landed a job in politics — working my way up from intern to Chief of Staff. I was proud to have been one of the youngest women of color Chiefs of Staff on Capitol Hill, leading staff efforts to diversify Congress. Things were good.
Until my arrest.
After being assaulted by a neighbor, my apartment security asked if I wanted to call the police. My attacker threatened that she had friends in “high places.” Shaking, with tears in my eyes, I said no. I feared a criminal justice system that has failed people like me time and time again.
Two months later, in the night, two police officers banged on my door. Neither had documentation. I asked them to provide their contact and to leave. I was scared and didn’t know what to believe, so I immediately called the metropolitan police department’s Congressional Affairs and filed a complaint. I had no idea that this would cost me my freedom.
A month later, three squad cars arrived at my home and arrested me. I was cuffed by my wrists and my waist, dragged out of my apartment, photographed, fingerprinted, booked, and locked away in a jail cell for 12 hours, only to have my charges dropped and my case dismissed.
I cannot explain the humiliation and indignation of sitting in a jail cell for a crime of which I was the victim. This isn’t just my story — it’s a story that nearly 13 million Americans face each year in our District Courts. It is the story of our woefully broken criminal justice system.
70% of people in jail have not been convicted of a crime and 60% of those individuals look like me. This is one of the greatest injustices of our time.
I am furious that we have a system that does not make us safer — but instead leaves too many of us behind.
After my trauma, I fought tirelessly on Capitol Hill for legislative changes and reforms. But even from my position and with my personal story, I couldn’t move the needle enough. That’s when I realized I had to do more.
Today, I’m reminded of King’s letter from a Birmingham Jail. He reminds us that our communities and our issues are interconnected. That when we are confronted with an injustice, we must all get in the fight together. We need a new generation of leaders and torchbearers who will continue the fight for justice waged by our trailblazers.
The United States Congress is more than a collection of offices. It’s the People’s House. And I’m running because right now, the people’s house doesn’t look like the people — and it certainly doesn’t work for the people. Our issues and our concerns are being ignored — with entire communities left behind.
I graduated from law school with over $180,000 of student loan debt.
I have lost loved ones to this nation’s unyielding plague of gun violence.
I have experienced the deep disparities in our healthcare system.
I know our issues. Not because I’ve read about them. But, because I lived them.
Diversity is our strength, and inclusive representation is the key to having better policies and legislation that moves us all forward.
There are only two Black women in Congress under the age of 40. Black women are trusted at the polls but not on the ballot. I am humbled to be the only Black woman in this race and a torchbearer of our progress. Our District’s largest democratic voting blocs are African Americans, women, and millennials. I have the experience to represent our community and the fire to fight for home.
I am running for congress because our time is now. And despite the uncertainties and frustrations of the time, I still believe in King’s dream — which was deeply rooted in the American dream.
I can run because I stand boldly on the shoulders of Sojourner, Rosa, Coretta, Maya, & Shirley. But I can’t do it without you.