Two UCPD officers handcuffed an 11-year-old child after detaining the minor and his friend at a playground on university property June 26.
The two minors, who are Black, are sons of UC Berkeley students. They called the department in the afternoon complaining that a woman at the park was taking photos of them, according to UC Berkeley spokesperson Janet Gilmore. When police arrived on the scene, they found a woman who accused one of the minors of stealing her purse earlier that morning. The officers detained the boys, handcuffing one of them and putting both into the back of a patrol car, according to Gilmore.
In her email, Gilmore described two thefts that occurred earlier in the day — a stolen cellphone and a stolen purse. The thefts, however, “were resolved to the victims’ satisfaction” when the police responded.
“I am aware of the broader context of national police interaction with the Black community and believe this and any comparable situations warrant attention from campus leadership and I am a committed partner in this work,” said Chancellor Carol Christ in a message sent to the campus community July 2.
According to Christ’s message, individuals representing UCPD, the Office of the Chancellor, the Division of Equity & Inclusion, faculty and the campus’s Counseling & Psychological Services met with the children and their families to address “their concerns.”
Derrika Hunt, a campus graduate student, posted about the incident on Facebook, expressing that her “heart (was) so heavy” and emphasizing the need to support the mothers who went through this experience alongside their children.
“The campus will have a review of the matter (…) to help de-escalate issues,” Gilmore said in an email.
In her message, Christ referenced the principles of community that guide the campus climate. One of these principles says the campus must respect the community’s diversity and the features that give different groups a common ground, calling for “civility and respect in our personal interactions.”
To Hunt, this incident “dehumanized” the children. She said in her post that the children were “violently assaulted,” “thrown on the car,” “handcuffed” and “hit” by the police officers.
In her post, Hunt requested that community members contact UCPD to express concerns about policing and surveillance in residential communities and the use of excessive force. Hunt also expressed concern about the protocol that UCPD uses when dealing with incidents involving children and oppressed communities. Various activist groups shared Hunt’s post, including the #DisarmUC Facebook page and Students and Workers Ending Racial Violence, or SWERV.