Updated March 10, 2021.
Police brutality is a civil rights violation that has long affected the Black community as well as other minority groups. While the issue has been highlighted extensively by these communities it seems that it’s only been very recently that the general public has developed concern over the issue. This is despite the fact that in so many ways police brutality has not only deeply harmed communities but also sparked major political and social movements such as the civil rights movement of the 1960s and anti-war demonstrations. So much so in fact, the United States has developed an ill-famed reputation for cases of police brutality. Particularly when it comes to the police’s mistreatments and murders of minors like Nolan Davis, Cameron Tillman, and Aiyana Stanley-Jones.
Over the weekend, an incident in Rochester, New York brought attention to the issue once again after body camera showed officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl.
The incident which took place last Friday showed officers brutally restraining a little girl after responding to a call for “family trouble.”
The Rochester Police Department in New York released body camera footage Sunday showing officers handcuffing and pepper-spraying a 9-year-old girl while responding to a call for “family trouble.”
In two disturbing videos, the little girl can be screaming for her father as officers attempt to restrain her. “You’re acting like a child,” a male officer yells at her in the video. “I am a child,” she screams in reply.
“I’m gonna pepper-spray you, and I don’t want to,” a woman officer warns the girl while attempting to put her feet inside of the police car.
“This is your last chance. Otherwise pepper spray is going in your eyeballs,” the officer adds.
The girl begged the officers not to spray her before they did.
Once pepper-sprayed, she cried, “It went in my eyes, it went in my eyes.” The child and her family, nor any of the officers involved in the incident have yet to be identified.
“I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a 9-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK,” Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan of Rochester said at a press conference Sunday. “It’s not. I don’t see that is who we are as a department.”
This incident isn’t the first for the Rochester Police.
The police department’s top officials resigned last September after protests broke out over the death of Daniel Prude, a Black man who died of asphyxiation after Rochester officers put a hood over his head. Prude’s face had been pinned to the ground by police.
Speaking about the incident Rochester’s Mayor Lovely Warren said that the pepper spray incident was “not something any of us should want to justify.”
Warren said watching the video of the young girl reminded her of her own daughter. “I have a 10-year-old daughter. So she’s a child. She’s a baby,” Warren explained. “And I can tell you that this video, as a mother, is not anything that you want to see. I saw my baby’s face in her face.”
According to Warren, she has asked for the police chief to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation in relation to the incident. She also noted that she welcomed a review from the police accountability board.
The incident reportedly occurred after officers responding to a report of “family trouble” around 3:21 p.m last Friday. Police reported to the area and were alerted that the 9-year-old girl was “upset” and “suicidal” and had indicated that she “wanted to kill herself and that she wanted to kill her mom.”
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. You can also text TALK to 741741 for free, anonymous 24/7 crisis support in the US from the Crisis Text Line.
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