A New Jersey teenager who was involved in a mall brawl that went viral says police were wrong to treat him differently than the other youth in the altercation, who is black.
“I don’t understand why they arrested him and not me,” he said. “I say he was just an old racist. I don’t endorse that at all. »
Video posted online last week showed an officer tackling and handcuffing the 14-year-old black boy at Bridgewater Commons Mall. A second officer pushed the 15-year-old onto a couch but did not hold him back.
The incident sparked an internal affairs investigation and calls for discipline from the officers involved.
On Saturday, friends, family and supporters of the 14-year-old staged a protest outside Bridgewater Township police headquarters, to criticize what they say was racist treatment.
The older teenager told NJ.com that his mother was Colombian and his father Pakistani, and he was mistakenly identified as white in the media.
He also described the incidents leading up to the fight and the altercation itself.
He said he “even offered to be handcuffed, I offered to be detained after [the other boy] was arrested and they refused my offer. I even asked them why they held [the other boy] and not me, and they said because [he] resisted”.
The black teenager’s family has retained prominent civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said in a statement that the youngster “was no more of a threat to these officers than the white teenager who is beaten with him”.
“This is another example of the kind of racial bias that we need to root out of our policing system,” Crump said.
The incident prompted comments from Phil Murphy, the Governor of New Jersey.
The Democrat said: “The emergence of what is racially disparate treatment is deeply, deeply troubling, and another reminder that the progress we have made in the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve…shows that our work is not done.”