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Calgary police regret detaining innocent boy at playground

CALGARY (CityNews) — Videos surfacing online appear to show a Calgary playground turning into the scene of a rough interaction between a Calgary police officer and a young Black boy.

Calgary police have confirmed one of the boys detained at the park didn’t actually do anything wrong.

Police say officers were called to a store in the community of Ogden after a group of kids reportedly stole a large quantity of ice cream and candy.

After officers left, two of the same kids returned to the store and stole more merchandise.

Searching the area, officers found two boys – matching the description of who they were looking for. When approached, one of the boys took off.

Police caught up to the boy at a park, where another boy who matched the description of one of the kids, happened to be.

Both were taken into custody, but one of the boys began struggling with officers.

In a statement, police say, to prevent potentially injuring the youth the officer decided to restrain him on the ground until handcuffs could be applied.

Police add that while the method of controlling arrestees can be visually shocking – they say it reduces the risk of injuries, especially bone and joint injuries.

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Once officers got the kids to the vehicles – they figured out one of the boys was innocent.

Some within the Calgary Police Service’s Anti-Racism Committee say they know officers are committed to change that needs to happen, but if no change is seen, then what’s the point?

“We have to start from the frontline because all the internal work that we’re doing is great and is very much so necessary, but if all this work is being done and it’s not being exemplified through the officers that are going out and dealing with the community, it’s a waste of my time and a waste of having this committee,” said Shauna Porter, co-chair of the Anti-Racism Committee.

“The main story should be just how composed that child was. Because I can’t imagine I’m 12 years old, this is so scary, he was calm he wasn’t cussing, he wasn’t yelling, he just said call my parents to tell my parents what’s going on,” said David Isilebo, a law student at the University of Calgary.

“It’s the sad truth of the matter. I’m going to have black children and I’m going to have to tell them those things that my parents told me. You can be in the right but no one’s going to care if you’re dead,” he said.

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Isilebo adds there was no reason for that level of force to be used on a kid.

“You’re supposed to use a reasonable force – you just tell the guy ‘I’m gonna call your parents.’ That’s all you have to do. There is no need to take him into custody, he’s a minor. This is a non-violent offence, he has no weapons, no one’s in danger.”

It’s a striking sentiment familiar to Porter, as well.

“At some point in life I want to have children, and I don’t want to live in a society where I’m at work, I’m at home, I’m in my bed, and I’m getting a call that my child, my kid, was killed,” she said. “Not only by the police but anybody who thinks they have the right to treat Black people as property instead of people.”

In the statement to CityNews, police say “The videos of the arrest of two black youths circulating on social media are understandably upsetting. We fully recognize the impact that arresting an innocent young person has not only on them, but also on their family and community. We regret that a young man experienced this and will review the incident so we can learn from it.”