An off-duty police officer in Ohio used a taser on an 11-year-old girl who was suspected of shoplifting. It’s simple; this little girl should not have been shoplifting; there is no excuse for that. But, if a police officer cannot place a little girl under arrest without using his taser, he has no business placing anyone under arrest. To make matters worse, he pretended to be sympathetic to her telling her it broke his heart to do that to her and that what she did is the reason there are no grocery stores in black neighborhoods. Let’s talk about how problematic that is.

His actions suggest that he believes abuse is done for the benefit of the victim as if him tasing her was for her benefit. Does that mean that he preferred to tase her because he thought his only other course of action was to shoot her?

He suggests the reason why black communities are food deserts is that black people are prone to criminality. In addition to communities of color being landlocked, many grocery chains decline to come to communities of color because some of them have a lower tax base and grocers do not deem them to be economically viable for their stores.

Besides the reality of why there are little to no grocery stores in the hood, the idea that a police officer believes that crime and black people are inextricably tied together means he is not fit to be a police officer in any black community. Further, it suggests that his mindset is such that believes all parties he encounters are criminals. That is not the basis of building any productive relationship that would allow him to protect and serve a black community. Then putting that seed in this little girl’s head that crime and poverty are a part of her identity and she is the cause of her community’s problems and not a part of the solution could derail her possibility of overcoming any challenges she is facing.

The fact of the matter is children, like adults, make mistakes, and they are not bound to the mistakes they’ve made because they can learn, grow and move past them. An 11-year-old little girl is not a lost cause; she still can turn her life around. And I say that understanding her life might be in good shape and she may have just made a bad decision urged on by her circumstances. This is something people who wish to uplift impoverished communities must understand. Criminal behavior is often a means of survival for some people and not a matter of choice or some innate trait.

Instead of tasing this young girl, police should have done their damn jobs and worked to serve and protect her future by ensuring their interactions are not only punitive, but also work to intervene for such a young and impressionable little girl.


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