When you see kids on hot summer days with their little tables selling lemonade, is your first instinct to report them to the police?
However, that is exactly what happened in this case.
Three African-American teens were selling water bottles at Washington, D.C.'s National Mall on Thursday. The only issue, according to the police, however, was they didn't have a permit to sell water on a hot day. And that is how the kids, two of whom are 17 and one 16, were handcuffed and arrested.
Make no mistake, the children were not arrested for openly flouting the law. Had the three boys been white, police likely would have marveled at their entrepreneurial spirit and let them go with a friendly warning.
Tour guide Tim Krepp uploaded the photos of three plainclothes officers arresting the children for the “safety of the officers and of the individuals.”
Krepp was not blind to the institutionalized racism at work here.
My kids sell water and everyone smiles at them. These kids do it and get arrested.— Tim Krepp (@timkrepp) June 22, 2017
It IS racist. https://t.co/N85iy2a2Ch
Activist DeRay McKesson wondered if the police officers were threatened by the prospect of a water fight with the kids.
Did the police fear for their lives because the black kids were armed with h2o? Give me a break. https://t.co/QqQ5jwZsIz— deray mckesson (@deray) June 24, 2017
Democratic D.C. Council member Charles Allen wrote to Police Chief Robert Maclean asking him to explain the incident.
“While I understand the need to maintain consistency in permitted actions, I do not understand why the enforcement cannot take place with uniformed personnel and actions less severe than handcuffing individuals suspected of the sales. I can’t help but think how the reaction by these same officers might have varied if different children had set up a quaint hand-painted lemonade stand on the same spot,” Allen wrote. “While still the same violation of selling a beverage without proper permits and licenses. I doubt we would have seen little girls in pigtails handcuffed on the ground."
Sergeant Anna Rose of the U.S. Park Police insists the whole incident has been blown out of proportion. However, netizens believe it was unacceptable of the police to arrest the teens.
If these were white kids, not only would they have not gotten cuffed but Fox news would've done a feature on them. Tell me I'm wrong!— Ron Burgundy & Gold (@RBG_DMC73) June 24, 2017
The U.S. Park Police taught these teens a valuable lesson... prejudice exists, even in law enforcement, here in the U.S.— Paul Ginsberg (@ProAudioLabs) June 24, 2017
What??? They feared water? Water....So, kids selling water is a "threat to the life of an Officer" that the kids didn't even know were in a— shanchan (@ShanChan_37) June 24, 2017