A family from Elk Grove, California claims 11-year-old Elijah Hunter was tackled by police at a state fair last week, according to NBC affiliate KCRA 3. Black Lives Matter Sacramento and NAACP Greater Sacramento held a press conference with his family to argue Hunter’s civil rights were violated.
On ‘Kids Day’ at the California State Fair, Hunter’s family allege he was “brutally attacked.” A spokesperson for Cal Expo, the fair’s host, told KCRA Hunter was trying to steal from vendors and climbed over a safety fence, almost being struck by a roller coaster when police approached him. They said Hunter only suffered a small cut but his mother, Cynthia Martin, said in the press conference his shirt was covered in blood.
The two organizations and Hunter’s family are calling for a policy change in Cal Expo security.
More on the incident from KCRA 3:
However, advocates like Betty Williams, who is the president of Greater Sacramento NAACP said that nothing excuses the behavior of Cal Expo officers toward the minor.
“What makes him different from any other 11-year-old? I’ll tell you what it is. He’s Black. He’s a Black man, a Black male. It doesn’t matter your age when it comes to this society and law enforcement. You are treated differently,” Williams said.
The family and attorney are also concerned about a document that they say Elijah was forced to sign without any family members present.
Cal Expo officials said that when their policies are violated, fairgoers are asked to not return and sign a document agreeing to such.
The family is asking for the names of the officers involved to be released along with body camera video. They are also asking for the officers to be terminated.
According to NBC News, the mystery document Hunter was made to sign was a trespassing document which banned him from the state fair. Even if the signature was warranted, police have normalized approaching minors without the presence of a guardian or parent.
The spokeswoman for BLM Sacramento told NBC Hunter was just playing around with his friends while in line and was the only one attached out of his group of white friends. In a statement, the organization said Hunter had been emotionally impacted by the incident and was treated like a criminal instead of a child.
“We want some policies put in place and oversight to prevent any future incidents where there is child abused by law enforcement by Cal Expo again,” she said.