The officers arrested the children Thursday afternoon inside Morrell Park Elementary School on aggravated-assault charges. The charges were based on a schoolyard fight that occurred nine days earlier.
“The actions of Baltimore City police in arresting and handcuffing eight and nine year old children at school are appalling, and also in plain violation of state regulations regarding school arrests,” Sonia Kumar, an attorney with the ACLU. “Even if it was appropriate to treat the fight between children as a criminal justice matter, there is no excuse for treating eight and nine year olds the same way we treat adult criminal suspects.”
However, the Baltimore Police Department has defended the arrests, claiming the children were involved in more than just a schoolyard scuffle. One of the children allegedly held another child’s head underwater, while another forced a boy’s head onto a railroad track and threatened to kill him.
“We handled the detentions as we would any felony suspect,” said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi. “I think what they did to the victims speaks for itself. We worked with the school administration to get them out of class. Once we brought them to the office, they were arrested.”
But the ACLU said it was “deeply troubling” that the department did not acknowledge a difference between adult and child suspects.
“The fact that the Baltimore City Police Department’s chief spokesperson defends the police conduct on the ground that they ‘handled the detentions as we would any felony suspect,’ reflects a profound problem with the Department as a whole, and how it treats young children of color,” Kumar said.
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010,
and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs
of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University.
Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 5 million unique readers per month and serves more than 19 million pageviews.