Disabled Black girl, 10, arrested at school for drawing picture of another student

·3 min read

The incident reportedly occurred in January 2020 at Honowai Elementary School in Honolulu.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii is calling on local officials to make policy changes after a 10-year-old disabled Black girl was arrested at school for drawing a picture of her bully.

The incident reportedly occurred in January 2020 at Honowai Elementary School. In a letter sent to the Honolulu Police Department, the state Department of Education, the state attorney general, and the ACLU said the girl had “allegedly participated in drawing an offensive sketch of a student in response to that student bullying her.”

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NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 13: A view of “Handcuffs” by Ai Weiwei at the UNITAS 2nd annual gala against human trafficking at Capitale on September 13, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for UNITAS)

Several other students were involved in coloring and writing on the child’s drawing, the child’s mother said. The girl, identified in the letter as N.B., “did not want the drawing delivered but one of the other students snatched it from her hands and delivered it anyways,” the ACLU said in the letter.

The ACLU did not provide a copy of the drawing with the letter nor detail what it depicted, CNN reports. According to the family’s attorney, “a parent of one of the kids who received this drawing was very upset and essentially demanded that they call the police,” Mateo Caballero told Hawaii News Now. “She didn’t bring any weapons to school, she didn’t make any explicit threats to anyone.”

The girl was handcuffed in front of her classmates and interrogated by police without her mother present. No charges were filed against the child.

The ACLU letter reads, in part:

After arriving on school grounds, police interrogated 10-year-old N.B., handcuffed her with excessive force, arrested her without probable cause, and transported her to the police station—all without letting N.B. see or speak with her mother. The police and school officials took these traumatizing actions despite the fact that N.B. was cooperative and did not pose any danger to any person or herself—and without accommodating N.B.’s disability, which was documented with the school.

That same morning, school officials called Ms. Taylor to the premises. After her arrival, however, the police and school officials detained her in another room, away from N.B. They refused to let Ms. Taylor see her daughter or fully inform her of the underlying situation, despite Ms. Taylor’s repeated requests.

“That’s just straight up wrong,” ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Wookie Kim, told Hawaii News Now. “And there’s nothing that condones or justifies that.”

The girl’s mother, Tamara Taylor, was not allowed to see her daughter after she was called to the school. She also wasn’t informed that her child was “handcuffed in front of staff and her peers, placed into a squad car and taken away.”

“I was stripped of my rights as a parent and my daughter was stripped of her right to protection and representation as a minor. There was no understanding of diversity, African-American culture and the history of police involvement with African-American youth. My daughter and I are traumatized from these events and I’m disheartened to know that this day will live with my daughter forever,” Taylor said in a statement.

The letter said Taylor demanded to see her daughter “in light of the police presence given the high rate of police violence against Black people, and the discriminatory disciplining of Black girls in schools,” Associated Press reports.

The Honolulu Police Department told CNN on Tuesday it was “reviewing the letter and will be working with Corporation Counsel to address these allegations.”

The ACLU wants officials to compensate the child and her mother $500,000 in damages, per the report.

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