The Matter of Child Lives: Police Violence and the Limits of Children’s Rights.


On January 29, 2021, in Rochester, New York, three adult police officers handcuffed and pepper-sprayed a 9-year-old Black girl before forcing her into a police car. [2] As the girl refused to get into the car, resisting and screaming for her father, one of the police officers was caught on body camera chastising her, “You’re acting like a child.” The girl immediately responded, “I am a child!” Police were dispatched to a domestic dispute before they encountered the girl. Her pepper spraying and being forced into the police car follows a series of more tragic cases in the United States, including that of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by the police in Cleveland for playing with a toy gun, and 17-year-old-Trayvon Martin, who was simply walking in a Florida neighborhood when he was violently assaulted and killed by a community watchman. Like these cases, the incident in Rochester garnered condemnation against the police officers. Black Lives Matter protests denouncing systemic police violence quickly erupted in the aftermath of the video releases, and the three police officers involved have been suspended.

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Publication Date

Spring 2021