A video went viral showing police officers break up a fight between a 14-year-old Black teen and a 15-year-old teen in a mall, reported Insider. The officers are seen disregarding the older teenager while they pinned the Black teen onto the ground and put him in handcuffs. The older teen spoke out about the incident, reported NJ.com.
The older teen, Joseph, told NJ.com he does not identify as white as his mother is Columbian and father is Pakistani. However, he did notice racism come into play with how police handled the Black teen, Kye.
“I don’t understand why they arrested him and not me,” said Joseph, interviewed Friday by NJ Advance Media. “I say that was just plain old racist. I don’t condone that at all. Like I said, I even offered to get arrested.”
“I knew that was really bad,” Joseph said of the way officers handled the other teen. “I even offered to get handcuffed, I offered to get detained after Kye was detained, and they turned my offer down. I even asked they why they detained Kye and not me, and they said because Kye was resisting.”
Kye’s mother, Eboné, said she couldn’t bring herself to watch the video with sound. “It doesn’t take two cops to hold a 14-year-old boy down who is not resisting, while the other boy is just going free and still going off on my son. It just doesn’t make sense,” via NBC News. She also told ABC 7 she wants the officers fired.
The incident occurred at Bridgewater Commons in New Jersey. The Black teen, Kye, confronted Joseph who was allegedly picking on his friend, a 7th grader, per NBC New York. The two teens got into an argument which escalated into a fight after Joseph pushed Kye in his chest.
They then begin shoving each other, and a physical fight breaks out. The Black teen is thrown on the floor by the white teen during the fight. Two police officers — one male and one female — then arrive.
The female officer pushes the white teen onto a nearby couch and motions for him to stay there. At the same time, the male officer tackles the Black teen to the floor, sitting on him and handcuffing him, while the female officer quickly kneels on his back to keep him down on the ground.
“It’s cause he’s Black. Racially motivated,” a witness can be heard saying in the video’s background.
Kye told ABC 7 he was tackled to the ground while both officers put their knee in his back while Joseph watched it happen, per Insider. Voices behind the camera said the officers should be targeting him instead of Kye.
NJ.com reported both teens are banned from Bridgewater mall for the next three years. Kye’s mother said she was proud her son stood up for his friend, via NBC. “I’m just glad that it happened where a whole bunch of eyes were on the situation because I don’t know what would’ve happened. I’m just grateful,” said Eboné via NBC News.
Saturday, supporters of Kye held a protest outside Bridgewater police headquarters, reported The Guardian. NAACP-NJ State Conference also called on Bridgewater Police Department to remove the officers, per NJ.com.
Gov. Phil Murphy also responded to the incident via Twitter writing, “I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video.” NJ Attorney General Matthew Platkin also reiterated a policy on the “directive banning of racially influenced policing,” reported NJ.com.
Kye is being represented by civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump. “This is another example of the kind of racial bias that we need to root out of our system of policing,” said Crump via The Guardian.