The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii is demanding policy changes after a 10-year-old Black girl was arrested at school over a drawing linked to a "run of the mill" dispute among children.
In response to the incident, the ACLU sent a letter Monday to the Honolulu Police Department, the state Department of Education and the state attorney general's office asking them to adopt policy changes, expunge all records of the arrest, and to pay $500,000 in damages for "harm and suffering" caused by their agencies.
In January 2020, a parent called the Honowai Elementary School in Honolulu to complain about the drawing made by the girl and demanded the staff call police, the ACLU said.
When police arrived, the girl, who was only identified as "N.B," was "handcuffed with excessive force and taken to the police station," the ACLU said.
The girl's mother, Tamara Taylor, said she was called to the school, but she was not allowed to see her daughter or informed that the girl was "handcuffed in front of staff and her peers, placed into a squad car and taken away."
"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," Taylor said in a statement shared by the ACLU on her behalf.
The Honolulu Police Department told CNN on Tuesday it was "reviewing the letter and will be working with Corporation Counsel to address these allegations."
A spokesperson for the Hawaii DOE said the agency did not have a comment at this time.
In the letter, the ACLU said the girl had "allegedly participated in drawing an offensive sketch of a student in response to that student bullying her."
In the days after her arrest, the girl told her mother that she drew the picture but several other students were involved in coloring and writing on it, the group says in the letter.