ACLU Claims 10-Year-Old Girl Was Arrested For Drawing A Picture Of Girl Who Bullied Her

She was reportedly taken into custody without her mom present.

The ACLU is calling out Hawaii’s Department of Education along with the Honolulu Police Department after a 10-year-old girl was arrested last year.

The incident happened in January 2020 at Honowai Elementary School in Waipahu. The nonprofit organization and an attorney for the family says the girl’s rights were violated when she was detained and questioned while her mother wasn’t present.

KGMB reports that the ACLU says she was then handcuffed and brought to jail without being charged with a crime.

“That’s just straight up wrong,” ACLU of Hawaii Legal Director Wookie Kim said, according to the news station. “And there’s nothing that condones or justifies that.”

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In a letter to the DOE and HPD, the ACLU said the girl, who has ADHD, drew an offensive sketch of another student in response to being bullied.

“The next day, a parent of one of the kids who received this drawing, was very upset and essentially demanded that they call the police,” attorney Mateo Caballero, who is representing the student and her mother, said, according to KGMB. “We don’t want it to be about the drawing. This is about a 10-year-old Black girl who was arrested and there was no reason to believe that she was violent.”

He added: “She didn’t bring any weapons to school, she didn’t make any explicit threats to anyone.”

The ACLU also says the school detained the young girl’s mother, Tamara Taylor, in a room and would not let her see her daughter.

Taylor said police told her that they were negotiating with a parent about the matter involving her daughter and that she wasn’t allowed to speak with her.

“[The 10-year-old] should have been allowed to be with her parent who was sequestered in another room in the same school at that very time as police officers were interrogating 10-year-old N.B.,” said Kim.

Taylor delivered a grievance letter to the school and Leeward District Complex Area Superintendent Keith Hui a few days after the incident. It states: “Although I was at Honowai Elementary, I was not told that my daughter was removed from the premises, handcuffed in front of staff and her peers, placed into a squad car and taken away.”

“I was stripped of my rights as a parent and my daughter was stripped of her right to protection and representation as a minor,” the statement continues: “There was no understanding of diversity, African-American culture and the history of police involvement with African-American youth. My daughter and I are traumatized from these events and I’m disheartened to know that this day will live with my daughter forever.”

The girl was then released to her mother at the Pearl City Police Station.

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The ACLU is demanding the DOE and HPD forbid staff from calling police unless there’s an imminent threat of significant harm present and to consult with a school counselor before calling moving forward. They also want it to be mandatory for a parent or guardian to be present when a minor is being questioned.

HPD says it’s working with city attorneys to address the allegations.

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