Why The Cops Got This Black Woman Stranded in Turks and Caicos?

Photo: Turks and Caicos Islands Police
Photo: Turks and Caicos Islands Police

In another unfortunate event of a Black person being internationally detained, Ms. Sharitta Grier has been stranded in Turks and Caicos for almost a month due to what she insists an innocent mistake: loose ammunition in their luggage.

Hold on, now. They can explain.

Grier, 45, tells NBC News she was on a trip to the islands with her daughter to celebrate Mother’s Day weekend. Her return was set for May 13. However, on her way through the Howard Hamilton International Airport, she told the outlet a plainclothes officer stopped her due to two bullets discovered in the flap of her carry-on bag.

Her daughter was released. However, Grier says she was forced to spend the following few nights in jail, chained to a chair by her leg.

Read more from CBS News:

“I never experienced nothing like that,” Grier, of Orlando, said in an interview on “CBS Mornings.” “It was just so unreal to me. And all they kept saying was like, ‘This is a serious, um, charge, 12 years mandatory to prison.’ 12 years?”

Possessing a gun or ammunition is illegal in Turks and Caicos, but was previously punishable by a fine. In February, a court order required a mandatory prison sentence, even for tourists, in addition to paying a fine.

Grier insists it was an honest mistake, after believing she thoroughly cleaned out the bag before packing. Now, she is one of the five Americans facing the same 12-year punishment after ammunition was found in their bags.

Politicians have gotten involved, petitioning the foreign government to release the detainees.

“We humbly ask that your government—in its wisdom—temper justice with mercy and recognize that these men made mistakes but had no apparent malicious intents,” read a statement from the governors of several states.

Grier was released on bail and is now in the care of Bryan Hagerich and Ryan Watson, two more Americans who were also detained for the same ammunition offenses. Her next court hearing isn’t until July 5.

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