WASHINGTON — A video circulating on Twitter shows footage of an incident Tuesday between D.C. police and 15-year-old Genesis Lumes who was allegedly selling plantain chips and grilled corn on a Columbia Heights sidewalk without a permit. Sanctuary DMV, who originally posted the video, said police threatened to separate Lumes and her brother from their mother.
In the video, police can be heard saying "hold her" while Lumes tries to hold on to a younger child's hand. As one officer holds Lumes, she is then heard screaming and falling to the ground, crying "my knee, ow, my knee."
The family held a press conference Wednesday at Many Languages One Voice, where Lumes spoke about the incident while on crutches. She said the situation "terrified" her and said she had to go to the hospital after the incident.
"I was scared and all I ask is for them to leave us alone,and for them to stop treating us like criminals," Lumes said while crying. "We are not criminals. We do not go and steal, and do all this be in gangs. We don't do that. We go out and sell atole, tacos, chips, mangoes to make a living for ourselves."
Lumes said she is selling the food to help out her mother who is a single mother, and that one of the officers on scene threatened to separate her from her family.
D.C. police said they are aware of the incident and the investigation is ongoing.
WUSA9 reached out to Mayor Bowswer and Councilmember Brianne Nadeau for comment. Bowser had not responded at the time of publication, but Nadeau issued a statement.
"I’ve seen the video and it is concerning," Nadeau said. "I have reached out to the Commander to get additional details. For several months now, I have been working with our street vendors in Ward 1 to help them become licensed and have also worked to foster understanding between them and our police. In a recent conversation with Mayor Bowser, she expressed interest in helping as well. This incident is a setback on that progress. As a public official, protecting our most vulnerable people is my greatest concern. That includes children and immigrants who live in Ward 1. We can do better than the current situation our immigrant vendors face."