Community members in Portland are outraged after a 9-year-old girl was placed in handcuffs by police.
Latoya Harris couldn’t believe what was happening as she watched officers cuff her daughter after showing up at her home to question the child about a fight that occurred a week prior.
“When they put handcuffs on, I thought, ‘Wait a minute, this has got to be a joke,’ ” Harris recalled Monday. “The look on my daughter’s face went from humiliation and fear, to a look of sheer panic.”
They drove her to police headquarters in downtown Portland, where she had her fingerprints and mugshot taken.
The girl was still wet after running through a neighborhood sprinkler, wearing flip flops and a pink Velco wrap-around towel over her swimsuit.
Harris is speaking out publicly after she complained to the city’s Independent Police Review Division and no significant discipline resulted.
The act prompted residents of a police oversight panel and youth justice advocates to press for the city guidelines to be amended in hopes of preventing police from taking children into custody under the age of 10 without a juvenile court order.
According to witnesses, Harris’ daughter got in the middle of a dispute between two other girls who had been arguing outside the Boys & Girls Club in Portland’s New Columbia neighborhood on April 26, 2013.
She ended up in a fistfight with one of the other girls outside of the club, a police report states. The fight was broken up by a staff member, who said Harris’ daughter continued to try to strike and kick the other girl.
She was sent home and suspended for a week from the club.
But later that day, the mother of one of the girls called police to report the fight, accusing Harris’ daughter of striking her child in the face and bashing her head against a brick wall. She also told police she wanted an arrest made.
Harris said the officers refused to let her ride to the station with her daughter, but offered to take her back home after they photographed and fingerprinted her.
Harris, who didn’t have a car at the time, said she took the bus to police headquarters. The girl was held in a holding area for more than an hour until her mother arrived.
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