A group of black enterprenurial teens were handcuffed by undercover cops for the “safety of the officers and of the individuals.” The boys, ages 16 and 17, were detained for selling water on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Thursday (June 22).
Tim Krepp, a tour guide, snapped a photo of the handcuffed boys taken near the Mall’s Smithsonian Castle. “My kids sell water and everyone smiles at them,” Krepp tweeted. “These kids do it and get arrested. It IS racist.”
Undercover @usparkpolicepio handcuffing kids on @NationalMallNPS for selling water. pic.twitter.com/7iSqP4UYMq
— Tim Krepp (@timkrepp) June 22, 2017
The teens were later released from the park police custody without charges, and picked up by their parents.
“Officers placed them in handcuffs for the safety of the officers and of the individuals,” Sgt. Anna Rose of the U.S. Park Police said in a statement.
Rose claims the incident is being “blown out of proportion,” and added that the group of youngsters were selling water on the National Mall without a permit, which is “illegal.”
But the explanation wasn’t enough to get the park police off the hook. D.C. Council member Charles Allen, who chairs the public safety committee, is demanding more answers.
“While I understand the need to maintain consistency in permitted actions, I do not understand why the enforcement cannot take place with uniformed personnel and actions less severe than handcuffing individuals suspected of the sales,” Allen wrote in a letter to Park Police Chief Robert MacLean on Friday. “I can’t help but think how the reaction by these same officers might have varied if different children had set up a quaint hand-painted lemonade stand in the same spot. While still the same violation of selling a beverage without proper permits and licenses, I doubt we would have seen little girls in pigtails handcuffed on the ground.
“The actions and images speak beyond this one incident,” he continued. “They are a reflection of who we are and the values we share. And I don’t believe the image of young African-American men handcuffed on the ground for selling water is a reflection of my city.”
Read the full letter below.
I sent the following letter to Park Police Chief MacLean regarding yesterday’s handcuffing of kids selling water on the Mall. pic.twitter.com/bzY4I77E91
— Charles Allen (@charlesallen) June 23, 2017