2 Teens Fought at a New Jersey Mall. Now, a Controversy

A Black teen was handcuffed, while a white teen was put on a couch to sit
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 16, 2022 2:21 PM CST
NJ Mall Fight Ends With Teen in Cuffs—and a Controversy
Stock photo of a shopping mall.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Two teens fought at a New Jersey mall, and two police officers intervened—with one teen ending up handcuffed on the ground while the other was left to sit on a couch. The issue: The handcuffed teen is Black, the other white. The Bridgewater police response to the incident at the Bridgewater Commons Mall is now under an internal police investigation. NJ Advance Media reports it viewed video of the altercation that appeared on social media and describes the series of events: The white teen allegedly points a finger at the Black teen, who "swats the hand away," per the paper. There's pushing and then blows, with the two tumbling over mall furniture. When police arrive, the "white teen is seen over top of the Black teen, who is on the floor."

At that point, each officer deals with a teen, but once the white teen is seated on the couch, that second cop's attention turns to the other teen on the floor; NJ Advance Media reports the video shows one cop's knee is on his upper back while the other cop is pinning down his lower back and securing the handcuffs. The Washington Post adds that the video shows the Black teen did not resist in any way. "It’s because he's Black, racially motivated," an onlooker is heard saying on the video. No charges were filed against the teens, who were both banned from the mall for three years.

Gov. Phil Murphy chimed in, tweeting, "Although an investigation is still gathering the facts about this incident, I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video. We’re committed to increasing trust between law enforcement and the people they serve." The Black teen's mom tells NJ Advance Media her 14-year-old did not know the other boy, who she alleges was a couple years older and bullying one of her son's friends. The NAACP-NJ State Conference, which noted the "white youth ... was carefully eased onto a couch and treated like a victim," has called for the two officers "to be immediately removed from the police force pending an investigation." Their current status is unclear, reports NJ.com. (Read more New Jersey stories.)

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