Several Tennessee parents are outraged after learning that approximately five students, aged six to ten, were handcuffed and taken to a juvenile center on Friday.
Students of Hobgood Elementary School in Murfreesboro were arrested for allegedly not stopping a fight that occurred off-campus early Friday. The children were released later the same day, but parents and community members were still rightfully furious.
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“There are innocent kids that have been arrested that have been entered in a system they have no business in,” said Zacchaeus Crawford, whose three children were handcuffed at the school.
A nearby Baptist church held a community meeting on Sunday focusing on the incident. Attendees included parents, supporters, Police Chief Karl Durr, and City Manager Rob Lyons, according to the Daily News Journal.
"If something needs to be corrected, it will be," Lyons reportedly told the crowd. "Out of this, we want to learn and make things better so they don't happen again," Durr said.
Police obtained video footage of the fight and proceeded to issue arrest warrants for the students who watched and did not break it up.
The school safety and education officer at Hobgood, Christopher Williams, said that the administration and office staff “handled the situation as wonderfully and as good as they could have.”
His assessment of the school officials is difficult to accept considering they allowed nearly half a dozen prepubescent students to be handcuffed and detained by police. What ever happened to standing up for your students?
Why couldn’t the students have faced suspension or be required to participate in an educational forum that explains to them why it is important to intervene when fights or suspicious activity occur?
These children — especially the six year olds — likely didn’t even understand the consequences of their actions and therefore should have been educated and counseled, not shamed and criminalized.
Making matters worse, some parents reportedly claimed they were not even immediately notified of the arrests.
Hobgood is a predominately African-American elementary school, which adds fuel to the tension that already exists between the black community and law enforcement, Crawford noted.
This incident just further proves the multitude of studies that have found that youth of color are more susceptible to criminalized discipline than their white counterparts. “The Pipeline to Prison” is not just speculation or theory; it is playing out right before our very eyes and this outrageous situation at Hobgood serves as a prime example.
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