Police in Omaha, NE, have sparked debate for posting a video of an African-American toddler swearing and referring to it as a “cycle of violence and thuggery” in their community. The video shows adults directing obscenities and racial slurs at the little boy, while the toddler in a diaper raises his middle finger and tells one adult to “shut up, b*tch.” The adults laughed and encouraged the behavior, even asking him to repeat specific offensive words while one of them mentioned a local gang.
“We knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in,” wrote the Omaha Police Officers Association on their website. “Now while we didn’t see anything in this video that is blatantly ‘illegal,’ we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint.”
The video has since been turned over to child-welfare agencies, but African-Americans in Omaha are outraged that the local police association essentially predicted that a toddler has no future. “For them to take a video out of context — a 2-year-old who doesn’t have the brain capacity to know what’s going on — and to say that this child, because two adults acted inappropriately, is going to end up in a life of crime is totally inappropriate,” said Willie Hamilton, President of community activist group Black Men United.
Racial tensions in Omaha have reached high levels lately, with the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska recently filing a lawsuit on behalf of a black family against the Omaha Police Department, claiming excessive use of force. “Officers should be working to build a culture where anyone feels comfortable calling law enforcement,” said ACLU of Nebraska Executive Director Becki Brenner in a statement. “The manner in which the Officers Association has discussed this incident has done nothing but further erode community trust and reinforce the need for independent oversight, trainings, and other reforms.”
The Omaha Police Department is trying to distance itself from the controversy, claiming that the Omaha Police Officers Association is separate for them and that the video post does not reflect their own views.