Several instances of authorities mistreating Black children have circulated the news in the past week. Earlier this week, a 14-year-old Black boy with autism was violently handled by law enforcement in a confusing incident at a Clifton Park, NY Target. According to the Times Union, the boy was waiting for his siblings when approached by a Saratoga County sheriff’s deputy.
The lack of compassion shown to Black children and teens is not new, but it’s still jarring to watch. While the video is not included in this article, it can be viewed from the GoFundMe link below.
Video of the incident is disturbing, with a child crying in the background and someone shouting “these are children” at police and presumably security staff. The kids continue to yell that the boy had money, and his sister is insistent that officers get off on him. In the video, a sheriff’s deputy can be seen pinning the boy down with his own body.
In an interview with Spectrum News, Ware said her children were traumatized by the incident. From available information, her 17-year-old daughter, who attempted to intervene, is facing charges for allegedly assaulting an officer.
An official from the Clifton Park Target claimed that a security team member called authorities alleging that one of the youth had previously threatened violence. There is no allegation they did anything justifying the physical aggression.
According to the NeuroClastic Twitter account, the Saratoga Sheriff’s Department has Autism decals on their cars in recognition of the awareness month. Seems like they need to learn de-escalation and how to handle autistic people of all ages instead of removable decals.
Local news quoted the Saratoga sheriff as saying 50-80 percent of the people his officers encounter have a disability.
“We’re trying to make sure that first responders know, for example, that there could be another reason why a person might not be responding to them and that it’s not always a case of them being uncooperative,” told News10. “It’s all about safety.”
Apparently, it’s only about protecting safety when the person isn’t Black.
Tracy Sangaré, the bystander who caught the video, told Spectrum a manager remarked they only wanted the youth to leave the store, again suggesting there wasn’t a specific reason for instigating the altercation. She previously tweeted about the violent interaction saying the boy tried to show the officer that he had money and didn’t have any merchandise on him.
“The police approached him & he immediately showed them that he had cash on him & he had no merchandise on him. The manager wasn’t saying he was stealing- the manager wanted him removed.
The Saratoga Black Lives Matter account also tweeted a link to a GoFundMe for the family.
“The family’s home was ransacked by police this morning, and the young girl is being targeted,” tweeted Saratoga Black Lives Matter. “The mother and children no longer feel safe in their home and would like to move into a hotel. Anything helps, so please donate and share.”
As of Friday night, $2,625 of a $5,000 goal had been raised.
A New York Times op-ed written in June 2020 after the murder of George Floyd called out another Target for mistreating an autistic child who tried to hug an employee. Written by the boy’s mother, Doreen Oliver, the op-ed outlined a similar overreaction on behalf of Target staff at a New Jersey store and the likelihood that his white sitter likely saved his life.