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Case Of Handcuffed 10-Year-Old Is Resolved

Black Lives Matter

Editor's Note: This post includes updated information, 

 The case of a 10-year-old handcuffed by Bloomington police, whose photograph caused controversy on social media, has been resolved for the time being. 

A spokesman for Black Lives Matter said an agreement was reached which allows the 10-year-old to  complete the community service he was supposed to perform in connection with a 2016 charge of destruction of government property.

Black Lives Matter had sought a restorative justice resolution to the case, in which the boy was accused last June of spray-painting his name on the platform of a structure at Friendship Park in Bloomington.

Black Lives Matter spokesman Louis Goseland and the boy's mother, Anntionetta Simmons, said the 10-year-old had been unable to complete his community service earlier because he was sent out of the area to live with relatives while his mother was being held on bond on a drug-related charge. 

Goseland said he and the family had been told by law enforcement authorities that the boy would face a Class 4 felony charge in the spray-painting incident as a result of not completing his community service.

The boy is to complete 10 hours of community service at the Wayman A.M.E. Church in Bloomington in an agreement worked out between the church and the boy's family. The boy agreed to apologize for the incident.

Additionally, the boy was held on March 12 in connection with an incident in which he allegedly was throwing rocks in the parking lot of the Christian Faith Center in Bloomington.

Goseland and Simmons said the boy faced an ordinance violation of disorderly conduct as a result of that incident. A photograph a citizen snapped of the boy after he was put in handcuffs and surrounded by five officers during that incident spread quickly on social media.

It sparked a war of words in which some citizens expressed outrage and offered legal support for the boy, and others expressed support for the Bloomington police. 

Black Lives Matter said no criminal charges will be pressed against the boy as a  result of  the March 12 incident in the church parking lot.

State's Attorney Jason Chambers said he could not comment on specifics in the case because it involves a juvenile.

However, he issued a statement that said some members of the community "have taken the opportunity to mislead the public, either intentionally or unintentionally, by disseminating inaccurate information.  This information completely mischaracterizes, again either intentionally or unintentionally, proceedings initiated under the Juvenile Court Act.

"At best, those spreading such claims fail to comprehend the legal nature of such proceedings.  At worst, some individuals have recently demonstrated that they’ll go to any lengths, including exploiting minor children,  to support a predetermined narrative regardless of what facts exist or how the law applies to those facts.  I simply refuse to participate in such an exercise."

Goseland said Black Lives Matter would like to resolve more cases involving juveniles through community-based restorative justice practices,  that would deal with matters without involving the court.

In a statement, Black Lives Matter said it "mobilized a flood of calls to the State's Attorney calling on the felony charge to be dropped. We feel the outcome of the case wouldn't have been the same without the wave of support from the community."

The group said there remains a "systemic problem of the criminalization of children of color ... Bloomington kids of color have been disproportionately targeted and criminalized by the Bloomington Police Department, turning what should be childhood mistakes into criminal records and costly fines and fees to parents."

The group said it hopes to begin a dialogue" with law enforcement about referring "non-violent juvenile cases to a community-supported program that will prevent children from facing criminal charges, while creating opportunities for mediated reconciliation between 'victims' and juvenile 'offenders.'"

Black Lives Matter said it hopes to schedule a meeting with Chambers next month.