The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii is demanding $500,000 in damages after a 10-year-old Black girl was arrested at school over a drawing. A parent of a student at Honowai Elementary School outside Honolulu demanded staff call police in response to the girl's drawing, which allegedly depicted another student, CNN reports. (Details about the drawing were not specified.) When officers arrived, they "interrogated" the girl identified as "NB," then "handcuffed her with excessive force" and took her to the police station, according to a letter the ACLU sent to the Honolulu Police Department, Hawaii's Department of Education, and the state attorney general's office on Monday.
Her alleged crime: participating "in drawing an offensive sketch of a student in response to that student bullying her," according to the ACLU. The girl later told her mother that she drew the picture but that other students added to it before one "snatched it from her hands and delivered it." The ACLU describes this as a "run of the mill" dispute, yet the response from school staff and police was "extreme" and "disproportionate." The girl's mother, Tamara Taylor—who claims she was called to the school, then falsely imprisoned apart from her daughter as officers interrogated her, per the AP and WIS—says both she and her daughter are "traumatized." Both have since left Hawaii.
The mother and daughter "were singled out because of their race, both perceived and treated as 'more dangerous,' less rational, and less worthy of respect for their rights than the non-Black students and parents involved," says the ACLU, which is requesting that the agencies pay damages, expunge records of the arrest, and institute changes—including barring staff from calling the police on a student unless there is "an imminent threat of significant harm." This follows an AP investigation of police use of force against children over the past 11 years, which found "Black children made up more than 50% of those who were handled forcibly, though they are only 15% of the US child population." (New York cops recently pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old girl.)