Shantania Love, also known as Nia, said she was at a Black Lives Matter protest on May 29 hoping to open people’s eyes to the realities of police brutality when she was injured.
“I didn’t expect it to end like this,” Love said.
Love, a mother of two, was one of thousands across the country Friday protesting over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
“I just had to come, had to come out here,” Love said. “It was fun, people were dancing, laughing. There was an incident that occurred that kind of agitated the crowd, and once that happened they sent more officers out, and more officers, and we started saying, ‘Hey, don’t shoot.'”
Love said she had begun walking away when she was hit. “I was away from the crowd. I turned around to see where my brother was at, and when I turned around, I got hit.”
Love said she dropped to the ground after being struck by what she believes was a rubber bullet.
“It does not feel like rubber. It felt like somebody shot me with a cannon,” she said.
One surgery and several doctors appointments later, Love said she was told she likely will never again see out of her left eye.
“It was heartbreaking being out there protesting and doing something that I believe in and this was the end result,” Love said.
Among her supporters Monday were three California assembly members, including San Jose’s Ash Kalra, who called attention to a May 1 demonstration where people protesting the COVID-19 shutdown clashed with police.
“Those that were showing up because of stay-at-home orders due to COVID, some of them were accosting police officers, and yet I didn’t see rubber bullets or tear gas or batons then,” Kalra said. “Yet all of a sudden when people are rising up for Black Lives Matter — a cause that is 401 years in the making — we’re seeing this level of violence against peaceful protestors.”
It’s unclear which law enforcement agency is responsible in Love’s case.
California Highway Patrol said they were not involved. The Sacramento County Sheriff‘s Office previously said the same but now say they are trying to determine whether or not their deputies were involved.
The Sacramento Police Department is also investigating saying :
The Sacramento Police Department is aware of the allegations being made in this incident. At this point we have not confirmed that the injuries were sustained due to a Sacramento Police Department use of force. On the night that this allegedly occurred, we had outside agencies assisting with the protest as well. If the injuries are determined to have been sustained due to an SPD use of force, per department policy, the use of force will be reviewed.
Love’s attorney, Lisa Bloom, said they plan to file a formal complaint as well as a lawsuit and want to see criminal charges against the officer who shot Love and any who allowed it to happen.
“In order to get Justice for Nia Love, we need witnesses, and we need video. If you were at the protest at around midnight on May 29 when the police were shooting rubber bullets, we need to hear from you,” Bloom said.
Though Love is holding out hope for her eye, she accepts that change sometimes takes sacrifice.
“If that is the repercussion, I take it. It was very much worth it,” she said. “I have little black daughters, and I want this world to not be as hard for them as it is for us right now.”