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A Florida grandmother is speaking out after her 6-year-old granddaughter was handcuffed and arrested for having a temper tantrum at school. People on social media are expressing shock and disgust over the incident.
Kirkland told local news station WFLA she was in disbelief when school officials told her that her granddaughter Kaia, who is in the first grade at Lucious and Emma Nixon Elementary in Orlando, was being arrested and charged over a temper tantrum.
Kirkland also said when she tried to explain that Kaia has a sleep condition that she has been struggling with, the officer responded, “Well I have sleep apnea and I don’t behave like that.”
“Another unfortunate and disgusting example of how the system works overtime to criminalize black and brown children from an early age,” former ESPN host and writer Jemele Hill tweeted.
Another unfortunate and disgusting example of how the system works overtime to criminalize black and brown children from an early age. A lot of people need to be fired over this, starting with the school resource officer who thought a 6 yro should go to jail over a tantrum. https://t.co/rKj8oaCKB7— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) September 22, 2019
A recent study found that Black students and students with disabilities are significantly more likely to be disciplined in school, including suspensions and arrests.
Orlando police arrested 6 year-old Kaia Kirkland, a black child, & took her to a juvenile detention facility where they fingerprinted her & took her mugshot all because she was “throwing a tantrum" in her first-grade class. Shame on you @OrlandoPolice. https://t.co/JVoW3gnJO1— Simar (@sahluwal) September 22, 2019
Kaia Kirkland is six years old. So what if she had a tantrum? Children that age sometimes do. Orlando cops saw fit to handcuff her for it. To fingerprint her. To take her mug shot. She is only six, and consider how cavalierly she was put into the system. https://t.co/wRoMazcFS4— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) September 22, 2019
According to Essence, the arresting officer, Dennis Turner, has been suspended and is under internal investigation. He arrested an 8-year-old on Thursday, and in both cases, he did not follow departmental procedures for arresting children.
Turner has previously been lightly disciplined for using excessive force while in uniform. In 1998, he was arrested for beating his seven-year-old son. When officials at his school noticed welts on bruises on his child, Turner reportedly said, “Don’t let this stop you from disciplining your children.”
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Alex Dalbey is a writer and zinester currently living in Saint Paul, Minnesota. They have written for The Daily Dot, Kill Screen, The Lingerie Addict, and Bullet Points.