Three Black youths found themselves getting stopped and frisked by D.C. Metropolitan Police just days before Christmas holiday, according to video posted by a bystander that has since sparked outrage online.
Ariel Gory, who recorded the videos, said the boys looked to be between the ages of 9 to 12. One clip shows the children being confronted by three officers after an elderly man called police claiming three young people had threatened him and brandished a knife, WUSA9 reported.
“The boys — from what I was hearing — were saying that that’s not how the story went and that actually the man was threatening to hurt them,” Gory told the station.
In the video, an officer is heard trying to comfort one of the boys, telling him “it’s going to be OK.” Just as the matter seemed to be resolved, Gory said four more officers arrived at the scene, stopped the boys again and started to pat them down.
“I think that for me it was really hard to see,” she added. “They were so little, and their bodies are just so small, and their pockets are being dug into. Their little legs are being touched. I think it just seemed probably a little bit of a scary moment for them … I felt scared and sad also for them.”
A second clip posted to Facebook shows the children positioned against an orange barrier with their arms out from their sides as officers frisk each of them. Their search didn’t turn up any weapons, and the children were released to their parents, police said.
No charges are expected to be filed in the case as the man who called declined to press charges.
Gory’s video from the incident has racked up more than 50,000 views and sparked a flurry of reactions from online users, some of whom argued that the situation reeked of racism. Meanwhile, others commended the police officers for simply doing their jobs.
“Sad doesn’t even describe the many layers of racism and oppression in this video,” one woman wrote. “Sis! I’m thankful you were there.”
“So sad, those kids are not going to look at police in a good way from now on,” another chimed in.
One man wrote that he didn’t see anything wrong or racist about the way the officers handled the situation, adding that Gory had “none of the facts” about what happened.
“You just have the story from 3 little kids, he wrote. “This of course doesn’t mean they did anything wrong. It just means you have no facts and you’ve decided that the action of the police was wrong because it fits the narrative you have chosen. If these officers were doing their job correctly and without racial bias they deserve someone sticking up for them.”
Gory told WUSA9 that it wasn’t the actions of the officers that necessarily need changing.
“I think that this response maybe, yes, followed the rules that have been set in place for our officers,” she said. “When asked then what are they supposed to do, I think that it’s not about those individual officers — it’s the system in which they exist.”
Watch more in the clips below.
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