Dear parents of the United States, if you want your kids to be safe and not dead, make sure they don’t play with toy guns in public places otherwise the police will mistake them for real weapons and shoot them without thinking twice.
Sounds like a strange – and incredibly offensive – piece of advice, doesn’t it?
Well, believe it or not, it is exactly what the St. Louis County Police Department implied via one of its Facebook posts recently – a comment which has set off a scorching round of criticism, especially when the nation is already debating on issues like racial profiling and police brutality.
In a post headed "Kids Will Be Kids?" the SLCPD used the death of Tamir Rice – the 12-year-old who was fatally shot in the stomach by cops in Cleveland – as an example of "a 'hot' topic" that residents should be aware of.
As if calling the death of a young boy a “hot topic” wasn’t troublesome enough, the post went on to urge parents to tell their children not to play in public areas with replica or pellet guns, as Rice was doing when he was shot.
Yes, this is victim-blaming at its worst.
Fortunately, people commenting on the page pointed out the insensitivity of it and the geniuses responsible for the post realized that they probably did something wrong and removed it.
Oh, and the deletion was followed by a customary apology.
"I apologize to Tamir’s family and anyone who was offended by the post," SLCP Chief Jon Belmar wrote. "I was unaware of its presence prior to its release, I realize the message was insensitive to Tamir’s family and the sorrow they are currently experiencing."
(Following is a screen-shot of the now-deleted Facebook post by SLCP.)