She was questioned in the absence of a parent before being handcuffed and escorted out in front of the class.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of police brutality and race-motivated violence that some readers may find distressing.
A 10-year-old girl was arrested over a drawing of a bully and now, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking action against the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) and the Honolulu Police Department (HPD). The incident happened in January 2020 when the 10-year-old drew a picture of another student who had been bullying her at Honowai Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii. The girl has only been identified as N.B. The image of the drawing has not been released but it reportedly made a parent demand the school to call the police and report the incident. ACLU slammed the arrest. "That's just straight-up wrong, and there's nothing that condones or justifies that," said Wookie Kim, the Legal Director of the ACLU Hawaii, reported Comicsands. The ACLU is seeking $500,000 in damages for N.B and her mother.
The 10-year-old reportedly suffers from ADHD, according to a letter sent to the DOE by the ACLU. To make matters worse, N.B. was detained and questioned in the absence of a parent. She was then handcuffed and escorted out of school without being charged. Wookie Kim slammed the school and the police department over their treatment of the young girl. Not only did they interrogate the 10-year-old in the absence of a parent, but they also stopped her mother, Tamara Taylor, from seeing her after she arrived at the school. The child was later released and returned to her mother at the Pearl City Police Station.
Taylor filed a letter of grievance to both Honowai Elementary School and Keith Hui, superintendent of Leeward District Complex Area. "Although I was at Honowai Elementary, I was not told that my daughter was removed from the premises, handcuffed in front of staff and her peers, placed into a squad car, and taken away," she stated. Taylor also raised the issue of cops questioning her daughter without a parent present, especially given the context of police brutalities against Black people. "I was stripped of my rights as a parent and my daughter was stripped of her right to protection and representation as a minor," said Taylor. "There was no understanding of diversity, African-American culture and the history of police involvement with African-American youth."
She made it clear that the event had scarred both her and her 10-year-old daughter. "My daughter and I are traumatized from these events and I'm disheartened to know that this day will live with my daughter forever." ACLU has also demanded policy changes at the end of DOE and the HPD, in the light of the event. One of the demands called for forbidding school staff from calling the police unless there is an "imminent threat of significant harm." They also demanded that the school authorities consult with the school counselor before calling the cops. ACLU wants to make it mandatory for a parent or guardian to be present when a minor is being questioned.
Tamara Taylor's 10-YEAR-OLD daughter was arrested at school in Hawaii over a drawing that upset a parent. This extreme & unnecessary police response is RIDICULOUS. Why did this child have to endure this traumatizing spectacle & be treated like a criminal?! https://t.co/EwvZo8i2fb— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) October 21, 2021
Honolulu Police Department has received the letter from ACLU and stated that it "will be working with Corporation Counsel to address these allegations." Tommy Aiu, a retired federal agent, said the HPD had only followed protocol as they had been called by the DOE to look into the situation of a 10-year-old girl drawing a picture. "HPD must act on the complaint levied by the school and that's why the child was taken into technical custody to the station, then released to her parents," said Aiu in a report by Hawaii News Now. "Those kind of things should happen and get resolved at the school level because again, the pipeline to prison is not a good methodology."
Aiu added that the onus was on the school to do the right thing for the child. "Absent of an actual threat, the school should try and work out, maybe a better way, a better path for the child," said Aiu.