Questions of Police Brutality in New Haven

(From The Campus Lantern – March 26, 2015)

On Saturday, March 15, the annual New Haven Saint Patrick’s Day Parade was held in the city. At one point during the parade, a white police officer slammed a black 15-year-old girl down to the ground, causing her minor facial injuries. Since the incident, the 15-year-old girl has missed school due to the swelling and cuts on her face and a fractured shoulder (www.newhavenindependent.org). A video of the incident was posted two days after, and quickly went viral.

The incident started at the parade near the Buffalo Wild Wings on Church Street. The 15-year-old girl was in the restaurant when she ran into an 18-year-old girl that she had been having a feud with for some time.  A fight broke out between the two girls and the police arrived on the scene within minutes.  The 15-year-old girl was brought outside and that is when she was slammed on the ground, as was caught on the video (www.newhavenindependent.org).

The girl was found to have had a knife, but her mother claimed that she carried it around to protect herself from the older girl “because she was scared for her safety.”  She was charged with carrying a dangerous weapon, third-degree assault, breach of peace, and interfering with an officer (www.newhavenindependent.org).

A statement has been issued by the city confirming that it has opened the investigation.  Other details have been withheld, including the name of the officer involved (www.newhavenindependent.org).

Protests took place outside the New Haven Police Department on Monday, March 23, in response to these events.  One of the protestors stated that the protests were not about race, but rather about the lack of respect from police officers. On the contrary, another protestor stated her belief that the police officers would not have reacted so violently if the girl were a Yale student. She noted that this was not the first youth of color in New Haven who has faced violent treatment (www.yaledailynews.com).

There is debate about whether this incident should be considered an instance of racially-driven police brutality.  However, many can agree that the girl’s minor age should surely be taken into account when analyzing the case.

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