My name is B. Murray. I am a 59-year-old African American man who lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. Music is very important to me. I am a musician with a large instrument collection, and I have played in different bands and in church. My personal goal is to create an environment where young people can get involved with music regardless of finances. I am also a business owner.
In 2019 my van ran out of gas and my phone and wallet were in another vehicle with a person that I thought was a trustworthy business partner. I had to stay with my van because my dog was with me and I did not want to leave my dog unattended and because I was waiting for my business partner to come back. I was trying to flag someone for help when somebody called the police on me. When the police arrived, I tried to explain my situation to them, but they instead placed me in handcuffs and took me to the hospital where I was sedated. I felt trapped and did not have anyone to reach out to for help and I was kept in the hospital for two weeks. I have a mental health diagnosis, but I was not in need of any mental health services on that day. I have had encounters with the police before and I know there is something in the police records that indicates I have mental health diagnosis. Because of this, the police did not listen or believe me when I just needed assistance. Instead, they had me committed to a hospital against my will which led to a lot of problems that I am still dealing with.
I have been greatly impacted by the police’s actions. When I was committed against my will, I could not gain any assistance outside of the hospital or even find out what happened to my dog. I was not able to attend to my business, and the man who I thought was my colleague was able to have uninterrupted access to my personal information and finances. I have suffered serious financial repercussions from this, and the individual has stolen my identity, forged checks in my name, totaled my other vehicle and opened accounts in my name. Even though I have gone to the police many times about these crimes, they have refused take any action. Without the police acting, I am unable to work with the bank and other entities to get my identity and finances back.
I am sharing my story to seek closure, to document how the system has failed me and to show how police mistreat African American people and people with a mental health diagnosis. I have felt conflicted because I need the police action to get my stolen identity and property back as the victim of a crime, but I also fear the police as a Black man and someone with a mental health diagnosis. I am frustrated with the lack of accountability from lawyers and advocacy centers, the police, the district attorney, and mental health providers. My confidence in a system that is supposed to protect and serve me has been shaken. 1in 6 people have a mental health diagnosis, yet the police were not adequately trained to recognize a person in distress, nor did they take me seriously when I reported a crime because they treated me like I was “crazy”. This was compounded by the poor way police treat African American people. I hope that telling my story helps to resolve my case, to hold the systems accountable, and that my story leads to better treatment of the African American community and those with a mental health diagnosis.