Minnesota police officers can’t seem to stay out of the news. Last week, police officers in Maplewood, MN, detained and handcuffed four children ages 10-16 after reports of gunshots in an area nearby.
The incident happened one day after the anniversary of former officer Kim Potter killing Daunte Wright. A Facebook video of the incident shows the interaction once the parents of some of the children arrived on the scene.
According to Minnesota outlet Bring Me the News, audio from the body camera footage Indicates the children were explaining their whereabouts and that they weren’t involved in any shooting. The outlet quoted one child as saying, “I don’t got no gun, I don’t got no gun, officer.”
The officers spoke to the children for about 20 minutes, with one child even showing the officers their receipt from Mcdonald’s. At no point during the initial encounter do officers consider the children were just children leaving McDonald’s. At least one officer speculated the children may have even dumped a gun. (Read more here).
Probable cause doesn’t mean a presumption of guilt until police can be convinced of one’s innocence. The children were still handcuffed when their parents arrived on the scene.
Despite authorities swearing they did everything professionally and “by the book,” that doesn’t mean children as young as ten weren’t unfairly targeted. Even if the officers had probable cause to detain the children, the trauma experienced by Black children should not be excused because of a legal technicality.
“What we call this is compound, complex trauma. Being discriminated against, not only are they not feeling safe in their community, but they are physically under threat, put into a back of a car by people who do not look like them,” Minneapolis-based therapist Anissa Keys told KARE 11. “Those who are not connected to them, who are not necessarily on their side.”
At first, the parents demanded an apology from Maplewood police, but reports Monday indicate they may be considering a lawsuit. An attorney representing some of the children told the Pioneer Press that from her review, the department’s own policy would not have led to a child under 12 being placed in handcuffs “without either knowledge that they committed a dangerous felony” or “some suspicion that these children posed a threat.” (Read more here).
One of the mothers, Toshira Garraway, is no stranger to interactions with police. St. Paul police killed her fiancée Justin Teigen Sr. in 2009. She is also the founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence.
In an emotional speech, Garraway described getting a call from her as he was being detained.
“I can hear in my son’s voice that he was about to cry,” Garraway explained. “And I was with Jamar Clark’s sister. She’s the one who brought me home from Daunte Wright’s event. I’m sorry if this story gets a little scattered ’cause excuse my French, but I feel real f*cked up right now. ‘Cause, I’m out here, and I’m fighting, I’m standing up for people as an activist in the community. Whatever you want to call me. But at the end of the day, I’m a mother before I’m anything.”