An 11-year-old boy was “brutally attacked” by authorities at the California State Fair, his family and activists have claimed.
Elijah Hunter had “his rights violated by Cal Expo police” while at the event, held from July 15 to July 31, with family and friends, Black Lives Matter Sacramento declared in a statement.
But the Cal Expo and State Fair insisted that the child was not accompanied by an adult, and was “demonstrating dangerous behavior” on July 19 by climbing a fence, resulting in him almost being struck by a rollercoaster.
“The safety of all fairgoers, especially our youth, is our top priority at the California State Fair,” they said in a joint statement provided to Fox 40. “That is why we have a code of conduct policy in place for all fairgoers.”
“Cal Expo Police were initially notified about this youth by fair vendors indicating he was attempting to steal items.”
“After a short chase, the boy was detained by Cal Expo Police and a small cut was addressed with a Band-Aid,” it reportedly continued. “We believe the Cal Expo Police followed all proper policies to quell the situation and keep the minor safe.
However, a rep for Black Lives Matter Sacramento said that the child “was horse playing while in line, while [he and his friends] all pretended to be cutting in front of each other,” according to NBC News.
“Elijah was tackled by police and his friends were not. Elijah is Black and his friends are white,” the spokesperson told the outlet. “There is no amount of horse play that validates grown police officers to tackle and beat a child.”
An attorney representing Hunter’s family is preparing to file a lawsuit, according to the Black Lives Matter chapter.
“The violence inflicted on 11-year-old Elijah is appalling and has impacted him physically and emotionally,” the local chapter said. “There is no reason for a mostly idle police department to treat a child as a criminal.”
Black Lives Matter Sacramento, meanwhile, is demanding that the officers be fired and slapped with child abuse charges, NBC reported.
Hunter’s family, their lawyer, Black Lives Matter Sacramento and the Greater Sacramento National Association for the Advancement of Colored People on Monday held a press conference to ask for Cal Expo to enact policy changes, local outlets reported.
Cynthia Martin, Elijah’s mother, said that his shirt was covered in blood after police tackled him, according to Sacremento’s KCRA.
“They knew that they injured him because they provided the first-aid before we even made it to Kaiser hospital, where he received further treatment,” Martin said.
Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento NAACP, reportedly fumed, “What makes him different from any other 11-year-old? I’ll tell you what it is. He’s Black. He’s a Black man, a Black male.”
“It doesn’t matter your age when it comes to this society and law enforcement,” she added, according to report. “You are treated differently.”
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