In yet another horrific occurrence of racial profiling, at least eight officers from the Grand’s Rapid police department can be seen in a video, stopping young unarmed black kids at gunpoint.
On March 24, the police department sought to detain the kids after it received a report alleging one of them to be armed. According to reports, the children were walking home from the Salvation Army Kroc Center on Division Avenue after playing basketball when they were stopped by police. They allegedly matched a description given by a witness who believed he had seen one of them with a gun.
The 12-to-14-year-old unarmed African-American boys were forced to lie on the pavement for a crime they did not commit. One of the boys can be heard crying and pleading for his life.
“Please don’t shoot me,” he cried.
The Grand Rapids Police Department recently released a body camera video from two officers from the incident and it has obviously sparked a discussion of police relations in the Michigan community. The mothers of the five kids shared their story at a city commission meeting March 28, which motivated community groups for a call to action as they feel the young boys were unfairly targeted because of their race.
Officer Johnson apparently tried comforting the boys by telling them everything will be alright — all the while with a gun in his hand.
"Calm down, calm down, it'll be alright," he said.
After searching the kids and finding no firearms on them, the police officers returned them to their parents.
“I’m sorry, I don't mean no disrespect, but you all have to understand that's my baby,” lamented Shawndryka Moore, mother of one of the boys. "We don't deal with police. I don't have charges. We don't do this. All this stuff that goes on in this world - I worry about my kids every day. That's why I don't let them go nowhere."
However, as usual, the police department has defended the unnecessary actions of its officers.
"The officers didn't do anything wrong. They acted on articulate facts from a witness moments earlier who said he saw them hand a gun to each other," said Police Chief David Rahinsky. "I think when the community sees what we've seen -- with the body worn camera footage; I think they'll have a different opinion. I respect their emotion. I think what we're hearing is a lot of grief and frustration to systemic issues."
Rahinsky has said he believes the footage would help the community understand why the department is standing behind the officers involved in the incident.
Whatever the intention of the footage maybe, it is high time officers who are trained with guns must also get trained to deal with young kids.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters