Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Police Chief Janee Harteau have called for an investigation into what happened at a Wednesday night protest when a 10-year-old boy was sprayed with an aerosol chemical irritant by a city police officer.
In a videotaped interview with KMSP News (shown below) Taye Montogmery, who was attending the protest with his mother, described what happened.
“I couldn't find my mom and then this cop just pulls up with sirens … and then just starts macing everybody,” he said. “He didn’t give us no warning or nothing.”
According to The Star Tribune, about 100 people had gathered Wednesday night to protest the recent decision, made by Wisconsin authorities, to not charge a Madison police officer in the shooting death of black teenager, Tony Robinson.
According to a police report cited by KMSP, the protest had gotten out of hand, with demonstrators jumping on cars and damaging property.
Participants who spoke with KMSP claimed this was not the case and that some protesters were only trying to get cars to stop so those marching down the street wouldn’t get hurt.
Taye’s mother, Susan Montgomery, said she believed the officer who sprayed the irritant was trying to instigate the crowd but admits he may not have seen her young son.
Montgomery later posted a photo on social media of her son crying, with milk in his eyes to counteract the irritant.
At a Thursday demonstration, Taye said people, upset by the officer’s actions, should respond peacefully.
“Don't be angry about what happened to me,” he said. “Don't, like, be mad, just feel sad. I don't want people to be mad. At least I got maced and not shot.”
Police Chief Harteau said at a Thursday news conference that she wants to hear from anyone who saw the incident.
“It is critical for everyone involved that we complete a thorough investigation, so I need the public’s help,” she said according to The Star Tribune. “We must have the full set of facts.”
Some, including Minneapolis police union president-elect Lt. Bob Kroll, questioned what Taye was doing at a late-night protest.
The incident reportedly occurred around 10 p.m.
“Why is a 10-year-old at a protest at that time at night?” Kroll was quoted as saying by The Star Tribune.
Montgomery told KMSP that she has taken her biracial son to protests since he was 3 years old, because she believes it’s important.
“When I'm taking him to these things, I know I'm going to get flack,” she said. “I already have family members that don't agree. I've gotten that for years, but my children mean the world to me and I want those colors to shine out, that they have a voice and their life matters.”
Photo Credit: Screen shot from YouTube