Black Woman Dies After Hospital Calls Police and Forces Her Out

January 9, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


Barbara Dawson

Barbara Dawson

Barbara Dawson, a 57-year-old Black woman, checked into Calhoun Liberty Hospital in Blountstown, Florida, on December 20. She complained of abdominal pain. Dawson had a history of breathing problems; she regularly used an oxygen tank to assist her breathing. Barbara lived across the street and often received treatment at Calhoun Liberty Hospital.

Less than eight hours after arriving at the hospital, Barbara Dawson was discharged. Still in pain and seeking help, Dawson refused to leave, so the hospital called the police.

The final moments of Barbara Dawson’s life can be heard on audio recorded by the police dash-cam.

“No, no, no, no,” Barbara pleads with the police to let her stay. You can hear the desperation and terror in her voice as she begs for help. Over and over she calls out, “Oh my God, oh my God… please don’t let me die.”

The cop responds, “Here’s what’s going to happen. You can walk out or I can take you out of the hospital.”

The tube connecting Barbara’s oxygen tank is removed. The cop places her under arrest. Handcuffs are placed around her wrist. Barbara cries out for help as she’s pushed toward the hospital parking lot where a police cruiser waits. Without the oxygen tank she relies on, she repeats a familiar refrain, “I CAN’T BREATHE...I CAN’T breathe...I can’t breathe.”

As the cop reaches for his keys, Barbara collapses to the ground a few feet from the car.   For 20 minutes, the cop and hospital staff can be heard telling her, “There is nothing wrong with you,” and shouting at her to get up as they attempt to lift her body into the car. They struggle to get her limp, shackled body into the car and the cop radios for a larger vehicle. After 20 horrific minutes on the ground, a doctor checks Dawson’s vital signs and readmits her to the hospital for “symptoms totally different than what she had been released from earlier.”

Barbara Dawson was pronounced dead an hour after she collapsed in the parking lot. The cause of her death: a blood clot in her lung.

The Dawson’s attorney, Benjamin Crump, asked at a press conference this week, “Why didn’t she [Barbara] get the benefit of the doubt? Not just the benefit of the doubt. The benefit of humanity. From the hospital and from the police officer. Nobody gave her the benefit of humanity. She was a human being.” The simple answer is: she was Black and female in the United States of America, therefore her life did not matter.

The death of Barbara Dawson illustrates, on many levels, the illegitimacy of the system that currently dominates. Barbara Dawson died from a blood clot in her lung, but it is the SYSTEM that killed her.

Think about it: What kind of system allows its hospitals to deny care because it hurts their “bottom line” and treats those seeking medical care as if they are too stupid to know that there is something wrong with their own body? What good is a system that uses its armed enforcers, the police, to forcibly deny medical care to someone crying out for help, literally dying? What good is a system whose police “serve and protect” by arresting, brutalizing, harassing, incarcerating, dehumanizing, and murdering the people? The answer is: a system that needs to be swept from the face of the Earth through revolution.


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