A visit to a Minneapolis area park turned frightening for four Black boys who found themselves detained at gunpoint by police after someone made a bogus 911 call.
Bystander Brianna Lindell described the incident in a Facebook post Tuesday, saying she and her partner were at the park and tried to de-escalate the situation. She managed to capture the boys’ arrest on video.
“Today at Minnehaha Falls, cops drew guns on 4 Black kids; ages probably ranging from 9-12,” Lindell wrote. ” … When my partner and I arrived, the kids were being harassed by a young white guy, who appeared to be around 17 years old. He was spouting racial slurs at them and aggressing them with a metal trash can lid and saying he had a knife.”
“A girl with him was on her phone, I’m assuming with police,” she added.
Lindell said another family at the park stepped in and seemed to calm things down. She and her partner continued walking but heard shouting moments later. They circled back around to see a patrol car with two of the boys sitting handcuffed in front of it.
“One was begging for his shirt on the ground because he was being bitten by mosquitos,” she wrote. “My partner tossed him his shirt and a cop jumped out of the squad car and started yelling at us that we were interfering with an arrest. I asked the cop why he was arresting the kids, as they had done nothing wrong, and he said they had received a call that the kids had a gun.”
Lindell said she later learned from the family who tried to de-escalate the situation earlier that cops had jumped out of their cars, with guns already drawn “with the guns right in the children’s faces.”
A statement posted on the Minneapolis Parks website says officers responded to a 911 call about four males holding sticks and knives, and a report that one of them had a gun in his book bag. Minneapolis Park Police acknowledged that one of the officers did “unholster his firearm and point it in the general direction of the suspects.”
“No weapons were recovered from the four detained people,” the department said. “Once the scene was controlled, officers investigated further. Officers were unable to contact, on scene or by phone, the 911 caller or the 911 caller’s boyfriend. Witness accounts on the scene were inconsistent with the 911 callers account of the incident.”
The boys were eventually let go, except for one who was determined to be a runaway. That child was taken to a local youth supervision center, according to the statement.
Police say they’re now investigating the validity of the 911 call.
“The children in the video are safe and with their families,” Minneapolis Park Board President Brad Bourn wrote on Facebook. “The best thing the Park Board can do is invest in our kids and provide them a fun, positive, structured activities to engage in. For the last decade, investment in our youth has been virtually stagnant.”