Unveiling the Harsh Realities of State Power and Oppression

My name is Maghie Miller-Jenkins. I am a Black woman, mother, teacher, and activist. I, along with other people that both supported and opposed the policy of the day were arrested and incarcerated. I have now learned the state has decided not to file the charges against me. They didn’t tell me they weren’t going to file the charges until a month after my arrest, the morning of the scheduled court date. This late notice cost me a family vacation in Michigan. The entire incident has cost me my peace and sense of safety. 

On May 19, 2023, I went to the state capital ready to watch as women, parents, and trans children had their rights voted away with LB574. The bill substantially limits abortion, and bans puberty blockers in nearly all cases for children. I was on the balcony of the legislature. At about 2:30pm, I stood up, looked down at them, and told them what they were doing was wrong. I was immediately arrested. My arms were handcuffed behind my back for nearly 2 hours. A childhood shoulder injury was inflamed and I am still in pain, a month later. I was subjected to a pat down and required to change into prison clothes. After about 5 hours of incarceration, I was fingerprinted. I told the officer that I could not withstand any more touching and I was worried I may have a panic attack. I asked him if I could press my fingers into the glass without being touched to keep the panic attack from coming on. He said no, grabbed my right hand and began rolling my fingers for prints. My body took over and I suffered a panic attack. My body collapsed under the onslaught of shaking and sobbing. My nose was running. I apologized to the officer, as though my body was a problem. I apologized as though non violent protest deserved arrest, incarceration, and isolation from my family.  After some time passed, the visibly irritated officer allowed me to print my left hand without additional touching. After nearly 6 hours, I was allowed to make a phone call to my husband to inform him and my children of my location and status.  Finally, at about 10:30pm, I was reunited with my family.

My story is part of a bigger story about cruelty and excessive force by the state. Earlier in the year, a woman was banned for life and then unbanned for speaking out in the legislature. In 2020, Lincoln police detained a well known reporter for covering protests and shot the nose off of a 19yr old woman. Later that same summer, over 100 protestors in Omaha were arrested on a bridge on a hot summer night while pepper spray stung their eyes and skin. All charges were later dropped after a lawsuit was filed. 

Every child deserves enough to eat, a safe place to grow up, and equality under the law but they don’t all get to have their basic needs met and our state is moving in the wrong direction. Earlier in the session, I spoke out for children as the legislatures nullified nearly every city gun ordinance and enacted permitless concealed carry. Meanwhile, 30% of Black and Indigenous children live in poverty. Nebraska has the highest rate of pediatric cancer west of Pennsylvania. Black Nebraskans are jailed at 9 times the rate of white people and their children face long term mental and physical health consequences and economic loss. Now, the state has decided to withhold life saving medicine from families of trans children, whose parents begged them not to. 

The cost of speaking out against the government cannot be this high. It silences people, damages our democracy, and disproportionately impacts historically oppressed people like me, a Black woman. Nobody deserves what happened to me and the others who came before.