The Omaha toddler who has been the topic of a controversial video dubbed “The Thug Cycle” has been placed in protective custody by police.
At the same time, civil rights and community groups have continued to condemn the Omaha Police Officers Association for posting a clip of the young African-American boy, showing him responding to adult profanity and sexual comments. They say that the association’s presentation was needlessly racially charged.
Officer Michael Pecha, a spokesman for the Omaha Police Department, spoke with BET.com saying the toddler had been identified as were the adults who were heard in the background coaxing the boy to use profane language.
“The Child Victim Unit coordinated with Child Protective Services regarding concerns for the well-being of the identified toddler and other children believed to be in the home,” the police department said in a statement.
“The joint investigation found safety concerns and four children including the toddler seen in the video were removed from the home.”
Tyler Richard, a spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, told BET.com that the police officers’ union had used racially-charged language in posting its video. “We don’t think it sends a good message,” Richard said.
The video of the toddler comes at a time of tension between the police department and the city’s Black community.
Just this week, an African-American family filed a lawsuit in federal court alleging that excessive force was used by police who were responding to an incident involving a parking ticket. The charges against the family were dropped but the family is seeking medical expenses and compensation for property damage from the incident.
In a statement, Becki Brenner, the executive director of the Nebraska ACLU, said that the incident reflected poor judgment on behalf of the officers association.
“At a time when the Omaha Police Department is facing a lawsuit from the ACLU over racially-biased misconduct, it is very disconcerting to have the officers association use such racially charged language,” she said.
“Officers should be working to build a culture where anyone feels comfortable calling law enforcement. The manner in which the officers association has discussed this incident has done nothing but further erode community trust and reinforce the need for independent oversight, trainings, and other reforms.”
Meanwhile, the police officers association said displaying the video was not intended to send a racist message, but instead to make the public aware of the kinds of citizens officers have to contend with.
“The whole point of this is to give an unfiltered view of what police officers deal with every day,” said Sgt. John Wells, president of the Omaha Police Officers Association.
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(Photo: Eric Thayer/Getty Images)