‘I just don’t understand how any of them can sleep’: Parents of seven-year-old allegedly maced at Seattle protest speak out against police
The Guardian / YouTube
The parents of a seven-year-old child allegedly sprayed with mace by the police at a peaceful protest in Seattle have spoken about the traumatizing incident.
The footage of the protest, in which the boy screamed in pain as protesters tried to help with a milk-like substance to wash the child's eyes, went viral online in early June.
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The video also shows protesters confronting officials who are said to be involved in spraying the child and asking for their ID numbers. An official allegedly refused to give the demonstrators his ID number.
Mando Avery, the seven-year-old's father, told The Guardian that he and his son had just finished praying as part of a peaceful anti-racism protest with members of their church when a policeman fired maces at the group that hit his son in the face.
When asked by the newspaper what he would say to the police about the alleged incident, he said, "I would say you targeted my boy."
"I don't know if you tried to set an example and scare him. They did a great job," said Avery.
The boy's father also claimed that officials and a group of paramedics who were about a block away did not try to help his son.
"No officer who was paid for protection decided to stand up, break the ranks and help this child," he told the outlet.
"I just don't understand how either of them can sleep."
The child's name is held back to protect their privacy.
The Guardian contacted the Seattle Police Department for comment and was referred to the city's Office of Police Accountability (OPA), who said it was speeding up the investigation into the incident.
The OPA reportedly said that the "child pepper spray case" is "under investigation." We should have a public update on the progress soon. "
The department reported at least 12,000 complaints, a majority of which are related to Mr. Avery's son, the newspaper reported.
Protesters who witnessed the scene and released the video had previously asked people to file complaints with the department.
The boy's mother, Shenelle Williams, told the newspaper that it was the "worst feeling" to hear her son's scream.
"I also feel like a failure somehow," she said, "because I feel like I can't protect him, but there was nothing we could do to prevent it at this point."
The Seattle Police Department recently banned the use of tear gas in protests for 30 days.
Warning: The following video contains footage that some viewers may find annoying.
The family was criticized online for taking their young child to the protests, but said they saw other families and young children when they arrived, and that it felt "completely safe" at first.
"We just wanted to stand up for what was right," said Avery. “Ultimately, our young men and daughters become women. And they will eventually have to face some of the same racial injustices. And enough is enough. Black life is important, ”he said to The Guardian.
According to the newspaper, the family works with a lawyer before deciding on the next steps.
Evan Hreha, the 34-year-old hairdresser who filmed the footage of the alleged incident, told the newspaper that he had confronted the official who he believed had maceded the boy and said he would put the video online.
Mr. Hreha said he was arrested by the police a week after the footage was released, with the police claiming that he had a laser targeted an officer.
There are currently no pending charges against Mr. Hreha and no evidence of "records of the incident allegedly warranting his arrest," said his lawyer Talitha Hazelton.
Mr. Hreha, who is white, is said to have been refused bail and held for two days. He told the newspaper that he believed his arrest was in response to the fact that he had put the footage online.
"It woke me up a bit," he said. "It just kind of shook the wrong story that was in my head and that the police always protect and serve."
The Guardian contacted the Seattle Police Department for comment and was referred to the OPA, which said it did not know if a complaint had been received about Mr. Hreha's arrest.
According to the report, the Seattle Police Department referred another request for advice to the city attorney that the police department had not yet forwarded the case.
The Independent asked the Seattle Police Department for a comment.
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