On The Anaheim Assault of a 13-year-old boy

CW: Police violence

The video below is one of several. It depicts an off-duty sheriff deputy holding a 13-year-old boy by the collar and pulling and dragging him across a yard. He was mad students were allegedly walking across his yard on their walk home from school. It’s important to note to readers that, while this video is awful, no one was killed or seriously physically injured in this incident. That does not take away from the gravity of it or the powerful effect it may have on these kids lives.

The Video

I’ve taken some time to watch several of the videos to get a good understanding of what happened and what was said (mostly to counterpoint the several pro-grown man attacker videos cropping up).

The events leading up to the attack are not on camera. However, we see the man begin grabbing the boy while he and the other students are on the sidewalk, not on private property. The boy says that the man told a girl to “get off my lawn you freaking c*nt.” The man denies saying this.

In the video, I do not hear the man indicate he is an police officer. Early in the video, the boy says his dad is cop and the officer does not say “I’m a cop too.” Later, the boy says “I understand if you are a cop, but you’re not a cop.” If the officer corrects him, he does not do so loudly and clearly.

I’m so proud and, frankly, in awe of these children (and yes, teenagers are not adults and are therefore children) for acting very strong throughout. These teens — including the boy being attacked — attempted to de-escalate the situation. They tried negotiating with the man verbally. They tried to pull their friend away without moving towards the man.

The man holds on to the boy despite his pleas to let him go and attempts to move away. The man gets more aggressive, allegedly kicking him in the groin, as the boy tries to resist what is essentially an abduction (reminder: the officer has not appeared to identify himself nor does he mention he is a cop in 3.5 minutes of footage).

The man continues to pull the boy further away. One kid pushes him and later punches him. Another rushes the man to push him away. For viewers who selectively watch the video, they could use this as an excuse for why the officer fired his gun. Except for the fact, that in every video you still see the man dragging along a 13-year-old boy like a god damn rag doll.

Another boy attempts to approach from the other side. That’s when the officers reaches for his gun. [Some commenters claim the boy is obviously reaching for a gun in his back pocket. The item in his rather narrow looking back pocket appears to be a cell phone. And when the officer pulls his gun he does not point it at this boy, indicating he does not view him as a threat].

The man fires his gun. No one is shot. Thankfully, so thankfully, no one is killed.

Two of boys, including the one who was assaulted, were arrested. They have both been released, and I have not been able to find out if there have been any charges on the boys.

The officer is on administrative leave.

No Excuse

Many will argue that we don’t know how this incident started, so we can’t make a judgment on it. It doesn’t really matter how this started. There’s no excuse for dragging a 13 year old around by his sweatshirt. (And while we’re at it, this behavior would be unacceptable if the victim was an adult.)

Let’s say it happened like this. The man said something rude while yelling at the kids to get off his lawn. The boy decides to go up to the man and say something, maybe he pushes him a little bit. But his friends still stay back, as they do until the situation escalates.

A responsible man. A man who deserves to wear a badge. That kind of man does not choose to drag around a child. He chooses to leave and call the police whose jurisdiction it is. Or he chooses to tell the boy — loudly and clearly and repeatedly — that he is a police officer, then attempt to deescalate. A responsible man, a good man chooses to not attack a child.

Boys Will Be Boys, Unless They’re Black or Brown

This assault reminds us that the world black and brown children live in is a drastically different one than the one white children live in.

White kids on someone’s lawn are goofing around. Black and brown kids on someone’s lawn are trespassing.

White sixteen-year-olds in Steubenville rape a teenage girl, film it, and post it online. A reporter laments that the boys’ future will be affected by their convictions. She doesn’t mention the girl’s future.

A 12-year-old black boy in Cleveland is playing, alone, in a park. He’s killed before he has a second to react.

A white male sexually assaults a girl, is given a lenient sentence, and is released early. People worry about the future of his swimming career.

A black boy is walking home from the store with his skittles. He’s killed by someone on “neighborhood watch.”

Our society expects black and brown kids to be perfect, to not make a single misstep. And if they do make a mistake or do something wrong, they deserve to die. No due process necessary.

Yet, our society laughs off grown ass white man talking about sexually assaulting women as “boys will be boys” and “locker room talk,” and then makes him president.

White children and even white adults get the benefit of the doubt and second chances for the sake of their “potential.”

Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, and so many others didn’t get any of that. By the grace of God, we didn’t add to that list during the Anaheim assault.

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