This Week In Post-Racial America: Tased For Grand-Theft Snacking
Back in 2014, a Cleveland police officer shot and killed 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was playing with a toy gun in a public park, which is not in fact a crime. This week, elsewhere in Ohio, Cincinnati police demonstrated an ongoing dedication to responsible law enforcement.
A Cincinnati police officer stunned an 11-year-old girl with a Taser on Monday, the city's police department said, setting off anger and driving officials to re-examine the department's use-of-force policy. The girl, who is African-American, was suspected of shoplifting food, Councilman Jeff Pastor said on Wednesday.
The girl, Donesha Gowdy, reportedly was putting some snacks into her backpack. The rapid-response right wing trolls on social media are probably already claiming that this was part of a gang initiation, but in non-racist reality, people go all Les Mis when they're desperate and hungry. We don't know Donesha's circumstances, so: also sometimes little kids thieve candy.
The officer, who is also black, was off duty and working a security detail for the Kroger grocery store where the incident happened, Mr. Pastor said.
If the police department paid me so little I had to work a second job at a grocery store, I wouldn't sweat the small stuff, but I guess the brother is loyal to whoever helps him keep the ESPN flowing regular. Still, man, you just electro-fried a little girl. Good luck getting a decent haircut ever again. Barber shops across the state will refer you on sight to the new guy with the shaky hands.
According to the Cincinnati Police Department's procedure manual, Tasers may be used on children as young as 7. But before using a stun gun, the manual says, officers must consider the severity of the crime and the risk of danger to others if the person is not quickly apprehended.
Any second-grade teacher might secretly fantasize about whipping out a Taser, but this is bonkers. Unless the kid is secretly the shapeshifting Batman villain Clayface, they can't possibly pose that much of a threat. I had an aunt who was really good at the yanking you by the scruff of your neck action. No Tasers (or jacket) required.
Cincinnati is 44 percent black, and America has a habit of only seeing black children as midget gangsters or tiny alien invaders from the planet Blackton. There's no way cops are crispy-frying little pigtailed Tiffany who walked out of Ann Taylor with a scarf she liked.
The 11-year-old snack food bandit was kind enough to leave a generous "I see nothing but stars" Yelp review of her Tasing experience.
"It hit my back real fast and then I stopped, then I fell and I was shaking and I couldn't really breathe," the girl, Donesha Gowdy, told NBC News in an interview alongside her mother. "It's just like you're passing out but you're shaking."
It's common for conservatives to ramble on about "black-on-black" crime to deflect any criticism of police brutality. The officer who lit up an 11-year-old girl like a Christmas tree is also black so maybe they'll care now. It's doubtful. Besides, there are grown-ass black women receiving far worse treatment in their view.
Great news, though! Candace Owens safely got some coffee elsewhere and returned home to her condo at the trendy "Sold Out Your Race For PEZ" building. Oh, and the little girl won't get sent up the river for basically turning into a deadly criminal because she hadn't eaten a Snickers. They had charged her with "theft" and "obstruction of justice." The "obstruction" was her trying to run away from the scary man who looked like someone who might Tase a child. The mayor asked the prosecutor to drop the charges. Just wait until Laura Ingraham hears about this namby-pampy liberal "catch and release."
Vice Mayor Christopher Smitherman also wants a full investigation, and, like [Gowdy's mother], wants the policy to change.
"Seven is too young; let's move it to 12," said Smitherman.
That's ... not actually encouraging. But I guess it solves the problem of what to get little Donesha for her next birthday. Well, I've got some space left. Let's check out some more depressing law enforcement hijinks.
In June, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment alleging that Raimundo Atesiano, the former police chief of the tiny Miami-Dade town, had intentionally framed one black teenager for a series of burglaries in order to close out every unsolved robbery in Biscayne Park. His cops were told to frame random black people for crimes, according to three other officers — Charlie Dayoub, Raul Fernandez, and Guillermo Ravelo — who have already pleaded guilty to various crimes.
Now the teen who was framed in that case, known as "T.D." in most court records, has filed a federal lawsuit against Atesiano, the three cops, and the Village of Biscayne Park alleging that the group violated his civil rights and maliciously prosecuted him.
The cops straight-up framed black kids for crimes? They couldn't legitimately find candy and toy guns on them?
The report noted that prosecutors dropped the charges against T.D. in 2013 "after the State Attorney's Office noticed that the police arrest affidavits sounded eerily similar, including multiple instances in which a 'rear door pried open' in exactly the same way at houses the homeless teenager was supposed to have burglarized."
Despite the charges being dropped, prosecutors argue that T.D. "was incarcerated and unable to get a license" due to the violation of his civil rights by the Biscayne Park chief and officers.
The teen was wrongly imprisoned and likely prevented from voting without a license. This is where I refer everyone again to the documentary 13. Slavery in all but name requires only the immediate criminalization of vulnerable communities. It might end with the disgustingly shameless framing of people for crimes they didn't commit but it starts with what happened to Donesha Gowdy in a Cincinnati Kroger.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).