A Nebraska toddler who is seen repeating profanities in an online video was taken into protective custody, Omaha police said Wednesday.
According to CNN, Omaha police said that the department’s Child Victim Unit and the Nebraska Child Protective Services removed four children, including the toddler featured in the video posted by a police union, from the home.
The Omaha Police Officers Association has faced criticism for posting the video, titled “The Thug Cycle,” on its website.
“We here at OmahaPOA.com viewed the video and 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,” the union said in its post. It added that the footage came from “a local thug’s public Facebook page.”
Authorities found nothing criminal in the video, which shows the African-American child wearing only a diaper being barraged with obscenities and racial slurs from adults who encourage him to repeat vulgar phrases.
“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 police union said.
Sgt. Jeff Wells, the union’s president, said one of the adults mentions a local street gang in the video.
Police did not reveal the names of any of the children or families or divulge their relationship to one another.
“That is why when we talk about the culture, the criminal culture, that this is to try to break the cycle and deal with the culture of violence and the culture of gang activity,” Wells said.
However, local civil rights activists say the union’s post “crossed a line” in a city where police officers’ treatment of minorities, who make up a quarter of Omaha’s resident, led to lawsuits, criminal charges against two cops and firings and reassignments of others in the past year.
“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,” Willie Hamilton, president of Black Men United, said.
Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer said Tuesday that the department had nothing to do with posting the video and doesn’t have control over what the union posts, the Associated Press reported.
But the union has handed the video over to the department’s child victim unit for investigation with the help of child-welfare agencies.
“Hopefully, the impact is, it gives law-abiding citizens what law enforcement deals with on a daily basis, and it sort of throws back the blinders that these type of problems are going on,” Wells said.