Parents in Tennessee are furious after at least five children — between the ages of 10 and 6 — were handcuffed and arrested last week at their elementary school over an incident that happened in their neighborhood.
The children were accused of failing to stop a fight that happened near their homes, and angry parents and community members lashed out at the Murfreesboro police chief and city manager Sunday at a neighborhood church, reported the Daily News Journal.
“There are innocent kids that have been arrested that have been entered in a system they have no business in,” said Zacchaeus Crawford, who said that three of his children were handcuffed in front of classmates at Hobgood Elementary School.
During a community meeting at First Baptist Church, City Manager Rob Lyons and Police Chief Karl Durrpromised changes to prevent similar situations, but neither official offered any details.
Police obtained arrest warrants for the students after watching video recorded of the fight and determined the children had not done enough to break up the altercation.
The school’s safety and education officer praised school officials and employees, but he said the arrests deeply disturbed him.
“I hope we’re not setting a precedent where there’s a fight and we send everyone and their mom to jail,” said Christopher Williams, a youth pastor at First Baptist.
Crawford, whose children were arrested, said the situation added to the already tense racial climate in Murfreesboro, and school board candidate David Settles demanded police and city officials address the situation.
“I’m sorry for the new police chief because you came into a fireball, and when I say fireball — hell is about to break loose if you do not get a handle on this,” Settle said.
School officials have not commented about the arrests.
Parents complained that their children were handcuffed in front of their peers, and some said police did not immediately notify them of the arrests.
“They are getting carted off and being detained for something they didn’t have anything to do with,” Crawford said. “My anger is not just festering. I’m not going to lie to you, my anger is over-boiling.”