At a time when Black girls are targeted as victims of criminalization, many spaces have become unsafe for them, including their own homes. A body camera captured an 11-year-old girl who was handcuffed and held a gunpoint by cops right outside her Grand Rapids, Michigan home before she was thrown into the back of a police cruiser while screaming wildly during a manhunt Wednesday. Honestie Hodges was suddenly under siege and confronted by officers after just leaving home to walk to the store.
“It made me feel scared and it made me feel like I did something wrong,” Hodges said to 24 Hour News 8 about the incident under investigation. “They had police cars over on this street, they had police cars all along the ally.”
Honestie, a student at Stocking Elementary in Grand Rapids, was degraded when officers asked her to walk backwards with her hands up, a position that many Black people have had to assume when manhandled by cops. She was cuffed for two minutes, patted down and shuffled into the cop car, where she was detained for 10 minutes, as if she were an adult. Hodges’ mom, Whitney Hodges couldn’t believe the unjustified actions. “The whole time they are telling her to come down, I’m telling them, ‘she’s 11 years old. That’s my daughter. Don’t cuff her,'” Whitney Hodges said about the appalling and violent incident. When Honestie saw her mother walking past her, she put her hands through bars and banged on a window while screaming for her release.
Authorities have opened an internal investigation after Honestie’s grandmother complained about the incident, News 8 reported. They said they were at Honestie’s home to search for the girl’s aunt, Carrie Manning, who was wanted for allegedly stabbing her younger sister at a nearby home and was said to be armed with a knife. Manning, 40, is White, the report said. The apprehension of Honestie, along with two other women who came out of the home, was part of the officers’ assessment about whether the girl and the women were armed suspects, the GRPD said in a release Monday. Officers obtained permission to search the home, but didn’t find the suspect Manning, who was later discovered at another residence and arrested for intent to murder, among other charges.
Honestie is still reeling from the scary and unprovoked brutality. “I’m afraid to open or go near my back door because of what happened,” she said. The girl said that her dreams of becoming a detective or police officer have completed disappeared in the wake of the incident. Hodges’ mom, who has been contacted by an attorney and the NAACP to schedule a sit-down, wants cops to answer for their action. “I just want them to take accountability for what they did,” she said to MLive. “I have to get my daughter in counseling now. She is having trouble sleeping. I want them to address my child, or at least try to.”
The little girl’s story reminds Black families that many young children are wrongfully and harmfully stigmatized as criminals, as a study on the “adultification” of African-American girls found. It is that stigmatization of criminality that plays a role in funneling of children from schools to warehoused prisons, a practice that must be addressed to prevent encounters similar to Honestie’s.
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