Opinion: Are Syracuse Cops Abusing 8-Year-old in Shocking Viral Video?
[Editor's Note: the video linked in this story includes graphic content]
Police in Syracuse are taking heat, both across Central New York and around the country, after an apprehension video of an 8-year-old boy accused of stealing a bag of potato chips has gone viral.
I say, if you watch the video with an open mind, you must agree police were correct in the way they handled the child and may ultimately have saved his life.
Police say, the child stole a bag of potato chips from a corner store in the city and as he was driving away on his bike, they grabbed him. When the video taken by witness Kenneth Jackson started, the child was yelling and resisting police. It was at that time when the situation became very tense.
A crowd started to gather around police and bystanders were yelling obscenities and claiming cops were mistreating the child. "It's only a bag of chips," one person shouted and others made verbal threats to police. Meanwhile, the child was struggling with officers as they tried to place him in the police car.
Jackson told Syracuse.com, “It was just beyond me that they were actually treating this baby like this.”
I completely disagree. If you watch the video closely, the child is flailing and screaming and police are doing their best to get the kid in the patrol car without injuring him. Meanwhile, the more bystanders yelled and shouted threats and obscenities at police, the more the child acted out and the more unstable the situation became.
Ultimately, police placed the boy in the car and delivered him to his home where they met with the boy's father who said police were polite, did not handcuff the child, and didn't make him pay for the bag of chips. The father also told the Syracuse newspaper that he agreed that his son (including 2 other brothers) had done something wrong. However, after the father saw the Jackson video, he had second thoughts and felt his son was mistreated.
“Why would the police treat that child like that?” the father asked, and said he wants to file a complaint against the police. “Over a $3 bag of chips,” he told Syracuse.com.
Yes over a $3 bag of chips! If that was my kid in the video, I would be asking, "How could my son be treating POLICE this way? That's not how I brought him up."
Meanwhile, the videographer (Jackson) told the paper, “Now that’s just another youth that’s scarred by the system.” Scarred by the system? Actually, It's the neighborhood that is scarring this kid, not the police.
Syracuse Police issued the following statement on Tuesday:
We are aware of a video being shared on social media involving several of our Officers and juveniles accused of stealing from a store on the City's northside. The incident, including the Officers' actions and body-worn cameras, are being reviewed. There is some misinformation involving this case. The juvenile suspected of larceny was not placed in handcuffs. He was placed in the rear of a patrol unit where he was directly brought home. Officers met with the child’s father and no charges were filed.
At 8 years old, there's still time to reach this child and send him down a straight and narrow path. A path in which he knows it's wrong to steal anything, even something with a value of $3. But will the adults in the picture here act in the real best interest of this child?
This is not about the $3 bag of chips. It's about the fact that if an 8-year-old thinks it's okay to steal from a corner store and completely disregard an officer's commands. Remember that he's stealing in a city where children are committing robberies, doing drugs, robbing Julie Boeheim at gunpoint in the Destiny USA parking lot, and children who are even shooting and killing each other.
The fact that this child was not intimidated at all by police, not even enough to stop when they had him by the arm, is disturbing. It's also a sad state of affairs when the adults surrounding the situation are so blind that that they think they're helping the child by shouting and threatening police.
I also think it's important to at least acknowledge the societal problem that many minorities don't trust police during this age of police brutality accusations, especially in inner-city life. Sometimes, children of color are taught to distrust police and that could very well have played a role in how this child reacted to authorities. This is an issue that's being studied throughout the country and is clearly a problem that needs to be solved if we're ever going to improve relations between police and minorities.
Ultimately, the people of Syracuse missed the opportunity at a teachable moment during this incident. The good news is, these adults now actually have a second chance at another teachable moment, as this video and story have gone viral. Now, if they choose, they can teach this 8-year-old the simple yet valuable difference between right and wrong.
The ignorance of focusing on the value of the bag of chips could be the one thing that dooms this kid's young life going forward. It should be obvious that no matter how much the item sells for, stealing it is undeniably wrong. And instead of seeing the $3 bag of chips as something that isn't worthy of police intervention, look at it as a really inexpensive way to teach an 8-year-old a priceless life lesson. A life lesson that could ultimately save his life.