BLOOMINGTON — Representatives of Black Lives Matter say a photo that shows a 10-year-old boy in handcuffs surrounded by Bloomington police is an example of children of color being disproportionately targeted by police.
The youth was in juvenile court Wednesday to face charges resulting from an incident last June in which he allegedly spray painted graffiti at a neighborhood park. Because he had not written a letter of apology and served 10 community service hours as ordered, he returned to court where he was granted an extension until April 25.
On March 12, police were called for a report of a youth throwing rocks in a church parking lot. When officers arrived, the same 10-year-old reportedly ran to his home. Once there, officers handcuffed him. He does not face any charges in that incident.
A picture of the boy in handcuffs appeared on social media sites last week.
“The image of the large officers standing over the small child offered the community a clear view of the Bloomington Police Department’s heavy-handed criminalization of children of color,” read a statement from the group.
While Bloomington police Assistant Chief Ken Bays said he could not address the specific incident because it involved a juvenile, he said that in general, there are various reasons why multiple officers would be called to a scene.
“A call may look benign at first, and not require much, but other individuals could arrive at a scene and inject themselves into it and escalate it,” he said. “At some point, an officer has to make an assessment of what the motives of those individuals are and how that is impeding their responsibilities.”
Bays said the safety of officers and the public is most important.
“We have to make sure we have control of a scene and that is done by calling in additional officers,” he said. “So those officers may be on the scene and not have had anything to do with the original call.”
Anyone can be put in handcuffs, including juveniles, Bays added.
“If the individual is not listening to officers, that could be a reason, but again, it is more about adding some control to an unknown situation,” he said.