Family and community in California are calling for officers to be fired after police reportedly assaulted the 11-year-old black boy for “horseplay” at the state fair

A California family is asking the city to identify and fire the officers who assaulted and injured a young black boy at the California State Fair. Despite law enforcement claiming the child was arrested for stealing property from a vendor and acting recklessly at the fair, community leaders are outraged that the 11-year-old’s civil rights were violated during the trial and are now demanding the bodycams of the child be removed release officials to the public.

On Tuesday, July 26, Elijah Hunter, a teenage black child from Elk Grove, a Sacramento suburb, said he was attacked by Cal Expo police while attending the free Kids Day event at this year’s state fair , which resulted in him having to go to a local hospital for treatment of his injuries, according to KCRA 3.

For the sake of transparency, the family is asking that the names of all officers linked to the incident be released and their body cams released to the public. They also demand that their ID cards be surrendered.

At a news conference held on Monday, Aug. 1, the boy’s mother, Cynthia Martin, standing with her attorney and members of the NAACP’s Greater Sacramento chapter, described seeing her son’s shirt soaked in blood after the altercation and stated that the police were aware of the harm she was causing her son.

She said, “You [Cal Expo police] knew they had injured him because they were administering first aid before we even made it to Kaiser Hospital for further treatment.”

Darla Givens, a Cal Expo representative, denied claims that the child was seriously injured. In a statement, she said he sustained a minor laceration and officers only approached the boy after being told he was trying to steal from fair sellers.

Photos of the boy’s injuries were sent to KCRA 3 by the family. The news outlet reported that the boy had no serious wounds other than “a bandage on one of his elbows and a visible bloodstain on his shirt the size of a nickel.”

Black Lives Matter Sacramento’s Tanya Faison believes the extent of the boy’s injury shouldn’t matter, according to the Finger Lakes Times. The officers shouldn’t have abused him.

“There’s nothing that grown men can back up for what they did to him. There’s no reason to attack a child,” Faison said. “Any level of injury is unacceptable.”

Police reported that Hunter climbed a security fence to escape from them and was once nearly hit by a roller coaster ride.

Martin says her son didn’t steal, but rather played around with other children, and officers grabbed him, claiming he was trying to jump a fence. She said Martin was the only child grabbed by police for one reason: he was the only black child in the boys’ group.

“There was some argument over who would get the front seat,” FOX 40 attorney Mark Merin said of the boys playing. “I would think it would be suspicious if there is a group of kids and only the black kid gets picked. That raises some questions.”

“He was the only child who was beaten by the police,” Martin added. “The other kids don’t look like him. In our neighborhood, most people don’t look like us. We have worked hard to create a fair and stable environment.”

She continued by saying that the fair is a family tradition: “[We] Come here and let them be kids, have fun.”

“Unfortunately, [this time] We encountered a nightmare, a life-threatening event,” she said. “The police terrorized my family and my child, an event that is etched into my brain forever. My child is not the same.”

According to the mother, Hunter has retired since the incident.

The NAACP’s Betty Williams said her problem was how officers had dealt with his crime, particularly since he was a minor.

“What makes him different from other 11-year-olds?” she asked rhetorically.

Williams answered himself, saying, “I’ll tell you what it is. He is black. He’s a black man, a black man. It doesn’t matter how old you are when it comes to this society and law enforcement. They are treated differently.”

Speaking on behalf of the family, Merin expressed concern over a prohibition document for Hunter to sign without a guardian or family member present, saying: “It is outrageous that these officials think it is acceptable. Then he had him sign something he had no idea about.”

Cal Expo officials said the document is standard for any showgoer who finds they have violated its code of conduct guidelines. It confirms that the person must not return to the place and will not return.

The child was also interrogated for 30 minutes without his parents’ consent.

“No child should be interrogated without the parents present,” Martin observed. “They slammed the door in my face and said no. When I tried to force my way in, they threatened to arrest me.”

Cal Expo and State Fair released a statement on the incident, saying, “The safety of all show attendees, especially our youth, is the top priority at the California State Fair. That is why we have introduced a code of conduct for all trade fair visitors.”

In the prepared remarks, Cal Expo said the incident occurred around 11:30 p.m. and that although it was late in the evening, Hunter was not being cared for by a guardian or parent. Hunter was also observed to have “behaved dangerously” and had climbed over a restricted and fenced off area that was cordoned off because doing so could result in someone being hit by the roller coaster.

“Cal Expo Police were originally notified of this youth by Fair Sellers who indicated that he was attempting to steal items,” the statement continued. “After a short chase, the boy was arrested by Cal Expo police and a small cut was treated with a band-aid.”

The statement was addressed to the boy, who was questioned by officers, saying, “We believe Cal Expo Police have followed all reasonable guidelines to contain the situation and protect the minor.”

Merin said he will file a government tort lawsuit and will await a response from Cal Expo, which will be filed within a 45-day window. This application is a precursor to the federal civil suit that the family plans to file.

“He’s just a kid. They tripped him by choking him. They abused him and used violence, so there is a false arrest immediately,” Merin said.

“They obviously used excessive force. Then they took him out of his mother’s perspective, which is against their lawful process. This alerts Cal Expo that this is a major issue.” Family and community in California are calling for officers to be fired after police reportedly assaulted the 11-year-old black boy for “horseplay” at the state fair

James Brien

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