The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is taking action against the Hawaii Department of Education (DOE) and the Honolulu Police Department (HPD), after a 10-year-old Black girl was arrested for a drawing in January of 2020.
As reported by Hawaii News Now, the girl in question—identified only as "N.B."—made a drawing of a fellow student who had been bullying her at Honowai Elementary School in Honolulu, Hawaii.
While what exactly N.B. drew has not been disclosed, the drawing reportedly made a parent "very upset", leading that parent to demand the school call the police.
According to a letter sent to the DOE by the ACLU, N.B, who suffers from ADHD, was subsequently detained and questioned without a parent present and then escorted from the school in handcuffs without being charged.
Wookie Kim, the Legal Director of the ACLU Hawaii, was outraged by the conduct of both the school and the HPD.
"That's just straight up wrong, and there's nothing that condones or justifies that."
When N.B's mother, Tamara Taylor, arrived at the school, she was prevented from seeing her daughter, who was eventually released to Taylor at the Pearl City Police Station.
Taylor filed a letter of grievance to both Honowai Elementary School, and Keith Hui, superintendent of Leeward District Complex Area.
"Although I was at Honowai Elementary, I was not told that my daughter was removed from the premises, handcuffed in front of staff and her peers, placed into a squad car and taken away"
Taylor was also open in her concerns over her Black daughter being questioned by the police without a parent present, particularly in light of the recent high profile instances of police brutality against Black people.
"I was stripped of my rights as a parent and my daughter was stripped of her right to protection and representation as a minor."
"There was no understanding of diversity, African-American culture and the history of police involvement with African-American youth."
My daughter and I are traumatized from these events and I'm disheartened to know that this day will live with my daughter forever."
The ACLU is seeking $500,000 in damages for Taylor and N.B, an amount some don't think is nearly enough.
On Twitter a number of people pointed out the fact N.B was bullied seemed to be of zero consequence to the school.
The ACLU's letter includes several demands for policy changes from both the DOE and the HPD, including forbidding school staff from calling the police unless there is an "imminent threat of significant harm", consulting with a school counselor before calling the police and making it mandatory for a parent or guardian to be present when a minor is being questioned.
In a statement given to Insider, the HPD said they were reviewing the ACLU's letter and "will be working with Corporation Counsel to address these allegations."
Tommy Aiu, a retired federal agent living in Honolulu told Hawaii News Now the HPD followed protocol, as the DOE called them and they had to act on the call.
"HPD must act on the complaint levied by the school and that's why the child was taken into technical custody to the station then released to her parents."
Though Aiu also made it abundantly clear he believed N.B was badly mistreated and the police should never have been brought in on the matter.
"Those kind of things should happen and get resolved at the school level because again, the pipeline to prison is not a good methodology."
"Absent of an actual threat, the school should try and work out, maybe a better way, a better path for the child."
The DOE has yet to comment on the ACLU's letter.
As reported by The Associated Press N.B. left Hawaii following the incident to live with relatives on the mainland.
Taylor remained in Hawaii to continue her job at the Department of Defense, before eventually joining N.B. and leaving Hawaii as well.