Police in the nation’s capital proved once again that they have no problem using unconstitutional “stop and frisk” tactics against Black residents—even against innocent children.
Washington, D.C.’s attorney general said Friday that a 10-year-old African-American boy who was handcuffed on March 30 for an alleged armed robbery was “totally innocent” and would not face charges, NBC News Washington reported.
The police were responding to a report that three children assaulted a boy and robbed him at gunpoint. Cops apparently went searching for any young Black boys near the scene of the crime. Attorney General Karl Racine said after reviewing multiple surveillance videos that it was clear that the handcuffed child was innocent.
However, Racine defended the officers because he said they followed established policies.
That didn’t quiet the outrage on social media when people took a look at the video of the arrest and said it was unnecessary to handcuff the boy. He was another example of the police targeting African Americans for arrests without reasonable suspicion that they were guilty of any crime.
A voice is heard on the video of the arrest yelling, “He is not resisting! That is not OK!”
That was hardly an isolated incident involving Black children. In December, Ariel Gory posted a video online that shows three Black boys, between ages 9 and 12, confronted by seven D.C. cops for a stop and frisk, reportedly under suspicion of an alleged knife assault.
“I think that for me it was really hard to see. They were so little, and their bodies are just so small, and their pockets are being dug into. Their little legs are being touched. I think that it just seemed probably a little bit of a scary moment for them. I felt scared and sad also for them,” she said.
It turned out that the knife incident was a false report. Folks in the community demanded answers from the police after seeing the video. First District Commander Morgan Kane defended the officers.
Between 2010 and 2016 the D.C. Police Department recorded more than 22,887 stop and frisk interactions, according to a WUSA-TV analysis reported in February 2018. Eight of 10 people stopped by the police were Black.
Kelly O’Meara, head of the D.C. Police Strategic Change Division and an advisor to D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham, defended the tactic, even though she admitted that about half the people stopped were innocent.
“What we try and emphasize is that every stop should be respectful,” she rationalized.
In December, the D.C. chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union settled a lawsuit with the police over a disturbing search of M.B. Cottingham, a 40-year-old Black man. A video showed a police officer searching the man’s groin area through his sweatpants. During the search, the officer jammed his thumb into the man’s anus and grabbed his scrotum, in what should have been a quick pat down.
“What happened to Mr. Cottingham is part of a larger pattern of aggressive stops and frisks that we hear about regularly from community members,” the ACLU said.