Here's another article, this time from the US state of Hawai'i, where a seven year old boy was arrested in November 2004. With a financial settlement of $50-thousand US dollars I think Hawai'i is getting off extremely lightly for this type of conduct. The cost is far higher to what's left of our social fabric, not to mention our souls, as well as to any confidence we're still expected or would want to place in the remnants of our U.S. public systems of public safety and order, and in favor of something called the common good. Do we even remember the meaning of "commonwealth"? I believe the state-sponsored conduct - by the school as well as the police - toward little "Jakisha", the 5 yr old Black girl in Florida, mirrors the continuing slide going on in the United States, back into something ugly, something many of us thought we Americans had begun to cure. I was under the impression the state - meaning government at every level - was supposed to protect small children from abuse, not inflict it upon them. I thought that by the late 20th century even Black children in America finally had begun to be included in the protections supposedly afforded to all Americans, to all people in the United States. What kind of system allows its agents to handcuff and arrest kindergarten and elementary age children; to put them in police patrol cars, to take them to jail and even detain them in locations with much older persons (older minors as well as adults) accused of real offenses? What kind of society pushes around babies this way? And what does this treatment accomplish? Is this barbarism going on anywhere in the world or in any other 'western' countries other than the United States?? Or is this trend further evidence of the same judicial and social isolation in which the US exists over enforcing the death penalty (our state-sponsored executions which also disproportionately destroy the lives, families and communities of U.S. people of color)? The following article by Johnny Brannon appeared this Thursday in the Honolulu (Hawai'i) Advertiser newspaper. State pays for arrest of boy, 7:
"A federal lawsuit over the arrest of a 7-year-old special education student last year at 'Aikahi Elementary School has prompted the Department of Education to review its procedures for handling mentally disabled students who are disruptive.
The department also agreed to pay $50,000 to settle the case.
The second-grade student, identified in court documents as "K.H.," was arrested at the school and taken to the Kailua police station last November, one day after he hit an educational aide in the face.
The arrest came on the boy's birthday, his mother said.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, charged that the school should have expected occasional outbursts and been prepared to handle them, since his disabilities had been clearly diagnosed.
The school had "a written behavioral support plan which was created for the precise purpose of responding to and controlling episodes of kicking, hitting, biting and other aggressive conduct to which K.H. is prone due to his known disabilities," according to the suit, which alleged the school violated the U.S. and state constitutions. ..." - Continue reading:
"... The DOE will update its policies as a result of the incident.
"The department is reviewing its current practices and procedures and will be providing appropriate training for its employees," DOE spokeswoman Sandra Goya said.
Raina Hockenberry, the student's mother, said she was satisfied with the settlement but remained outraged by the incident, especially because the school is generally well-regarded.
"I'm appalled by the way my son was treated," she said. "I can't believe a supposed blue-ribbon school in the state of Hawai'i would ever treat a special-needs child like that, especially on his birthday."
Her son now attends another public school and is doing better, she said.
"They have turned a very bad situation, and made school pleasant for my son again," Hockenberry said. "He was very afraid to go back. He gets apprehensive at times, but they're working through it."
Her attorney, Eric Seitz, said police officers did not handcuff the child, and immediately called Hockenberry after arresting him. The Honolulu Police Department also was named in the suit, and a settlement is pending, he said.
"Our whole approach to this was that the police made a mistake and they handled this poorly because they didn't have adequate information, but in the scope of things, we look at the actions of the police as being far less onerous than the way it was handled by the school," Seitz said. (Email: jbrannon- at - honoluluadvertiser.com.)