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Community Calls for Policy Change After Police Detain and Handcuff 10-Year-Old and 3 Other Minors

Maplewood, Minn. – Activists in Minnesota are demanding change in the way police officers handle children after four juveniles were handcuffed and placed in police cars for an incident they had nothing to do with.   

According to a statement given by Maplewood Police Lt. Joe Steiner during a news conference Tuesday, the incident happened in the St. Paul suburb of Maplewood around 9:30 p.m. Monday. Police were responding to a call of gunshots fired in the area. The caller reported hearing gunshots and said he saw four juveniles on surveillance camera outside their business. Steiner played surveillance footage at the conference that showed four people walking at a distance and later several gunshots could be heard. 

When police arrived they found four children walking in the area. Two ran away as officers approached, but “voluntarily” returned about five minutes later, Steiner said. 

Police detained two 12-year-olds, a 16-year-old and a 10-year-old for approximately 40 minutes while they conducted their preliminary investigation. After about 20 minutes, the children were placed in handcuffs when police received information about “safety issues”, Steiner said. After reviewing the surveillance camera footage, officers determined the children were not involved and released them to their parents. 

One of the minor’s parents is activist and founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, Toshira Garraway. She said she arrived at the scene after her 16-year-old son called her for help. The four had been walking from home to a McDonald’s in the area when they were stopped by police and detained, Garraway said.

“I got the scariest call any mother can receive — my baby begging for my help,” Garraway said, tears in her eyes, in front of the Maplewood Police Department. “They don’t understand the damage they cause. I think this is a learning experience. This isn’t how you treat people’s children.”

A cell phone recording of the incident posted on Facebook shows Garraway demanding that the officers let the children go. The minors are seen in handcuffs before police release them. Later some of them are shown crying and hugging the adults who had sought their release.

Attorney Jeff Storms said this was an example of implicit bias and the minors,  three of them Black and one Hispanic, were handcuffed without probable cause.

“This type of conduct to children that young is what precipitates intergenerational distrust of law enforcement,” he said. “The two children ultimately came back, sat there, made themselves available for law enforcement — they had done nothing wrong. Despite the fact they did nothing wrong they were still handcuffed and put in squad cars.”

Tanya Gile, mother of one of the 12-year-olds handcuffed, said the event retraumatized and intensified her family’s fear of police. They are still reeling from the loss of her 14-year-old son, Marcoz Paramo, who was killed in a crash following a pursuit by the Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office in August.

“I was in tears when he came into the house saying, ‘Mom, I got arrested,’ ” she said. “He said, ‘Mom we weren’t doing anything; we were walking home from McDonald’s.’ “

Garraway said she wants the Police Department to change its policy on detaining and handcuffing children.

“Those kids will never forget last night for the rest of their lives,” she said. “They were innocent babies.”

Steiner said police are still seeking suspects.

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