The other day, I was flummoxed to the point of being speechless on reading that the United States of America (popular simply as ‘US’ for short) has arraigned in a Court of Law a six-year old boy-child for plucking a flower in a lawn!
That happened in mid-March this year when the Black child innocently enough plucked a tulip from a lawn at a bus stop in North Carolina.
In the event, the child was hauled to the nearest juvenile court, formally charged with the criminal offence of “causing injury (sic) to real property...” Really: injury to real property?
[For reports on this, Google /newsinfo.inquirer.net/1410711/6-year-old-boy-arrested-for-picking-flower-at-bus-stop#ixzz6qDT8pvwB>; /7news.com.au/news/north-america/boy-6-arrested-and-charged-for-picking-flower-from-north-carolina-lawn-c-2441422>; etc...]
While the 6-year old child ending up before a Judge may seem shocking, around 7,300 complaints were actually filed against 6-to-11-year old children in North Carolina from 2015 to 2018, Juvenile State data show.
Some 47 percent of those complaints were against Black children. Another 40 percent were against White children – and seven percent against Hispanic or Latino children, the report says.
To put that into a context of sorts, around 22 percent of the state’s population is Black, 70 percent White and 10 percent Hispanic/Latino. Yet; and yet...
In such a situation, the arrest of the 6-year old (Black) child last March was – perhaps naturally enough – seen as a case of racial discrimination in the Juvenile Justice system of North Carolina in particular, and the US in general.
Apparently, in some American states – according to the Juvenile Chief at the Wake County Public Defender’s Office, Ms Mary Stansell – when a cop (read ‘police officer’) picks up a White child, the cop takes the child to his/her parents.
However, if the child is Black, the cop takes him/her to the state authorities, usually for punitive action!
But why, oh why would the US – the world’s economic and military powerhouse – treat virtual toddlers as criminals? Why would a 6-year old child who is yet to know right from wrong really be taken to a court of law at all for plucking a flower (a tulip, for Gawd’s sake) from a lawn - be it a public or private lawn, pray?
It is generally acknowledged across the wide world that children may not fully understand the situation, innocently enough believing that he was not breaking any law by simply plucking a flower in a lawn at a public bus stop.
Taking such a young child to a court of law – the Winston-Salem Journal of March 14, 2021 said – may change the boy’s life for the worse, seeing society as his/her Enemy Numero Uno!
‘6-year-old boy arrested for picking flower at bus stop,’ rightly screamed on March 24, 2021.
Ah, well... The presiding Judge dismissed the case against the child – but doing so on the grounds that some legal procedures were not followed/fulfilled earlier.
Surely, the law(s) on taking children to court in what is globally considered a leading Democracy, the US, must be revisited and made more humane, more civilised.
Incidentally, I have also just learned (belatedly, I frankly must admit) that the US House of Representatives on March 17 this year [what a historic day!] “passed a Bill aimed at advancing the ‘Equal Rights Amendment’” guaranteeing people’s rights under the Constitution, regardless of sex.
In other words: the US until today doesn’t have legislation guaranteeing gender equality...
Sorry, I’ve run out of editorial space here. More on this next week. Tears!