Bridgewater, NJ – The mother of a black teenager who was handcuffed on the ground by police while the white teen he was fighting was left on a couch to watch the arrest has alleged the officers treated the teens differently because of race and demanded they be fired (video below).
“To be honest, I want them to become unemployable,” Ebone Husain told WABC.
Husain is the mother of 14-year-old Kye, who is one of two teens involved in the violent brawl at the Bridgewater Commons Mall over the weekend.
Part of the fight was captured in a cell phone recording.
It showed an unidentified white male repeatedly punching Kye, who fell backwards onto a couch.
Kye swung back as two officers jumped in to break up the brawl.
One officer pulled the white teen away and placed him on a couch while a second officer continued to struggle with Kye on the ground.
The second officer ultimately left the seated white teen to help the other officer place Kye in handcuffs.
“It’s because he’s black!” someone shouted in the video.
Kye, an eighth-grader, later told WABC he “kind of just jumped into a fight” with the older boy, who he claimed was picking on his seventh-grade friend.
“[The police] basically tackled me to the ground, and then the male officer put his knee in my back and then he started putting me in cuffs,” Kye said. “Then the female officer came over and put her knee on my upper back too and started helping him put cuffs on me, while [the white high schooler] was just sitting down on the couch watching the whole thing.”
Both boys are prohibited from being on the mall property for the next three years, Bridgewater Commons’ General Manager Troy Fischer told WABC.
No criminal charges were filed against either teen.
Husain said she not only wants the officers to be fired, but that she wants them to become “unemployable” everywhere, WABC reported.
“I just can’t understand it,” she complained to the news outlet. “I keep trying to wrap my mind around it and in no possible scenario does it make sense to me.”
“If it wasn’t for race, then what is it?” Husain continued. “What made them tackle my son and not the other kid? What made them be so aggressive with my son and not the other kid? Why is the other kid sitting down looking at my son being humiliated and put into cuffs? It just doesn’t make sense and it makes me angry.”
Kye told CNN that he believes police treated the other teen “like he was superior to me.”
Footage of the incident quickly went viral.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy weighed in on the situation, declaring the way police handled the incident to be “disappointing” and “deeply disturbing,” WABC reported.
“I’m deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in the video,” Murphy said. “We have to let the investigation play out. The appearance of what is racially disparate treatment is deeply, deeply disturbing, and it’s just another reminder that the progress we’ve made on the relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve…shows that our work is not done and we need to continue that.”
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) New Jersey President Richard Smith issued a tweet Wednesday calling on Murphy and the State Attorney General “to put a stop to this type of behavior by the police.”
“The NAACP-NJ State Conference was disappointed today to see still another police action irrefutably showing the disparate treatment of African-Americans in our police institutions,” Smith said in a press release.
“Despite years of talk about bias training and accountability, the video of what happened today in Bridgewater cannot be denied,” he continued. “When Bridgewater police found two youths fighting, the immediate reaction was to aggressively throw the black child to the ground, knee placed around the neck area and cuffed behind the back. At the same time, the white youth, at least equally at fault for the fight as his black counterpart, was carefully eased onto a couch and treated like a victim.”
The NAACP said black people in New Jersey experience similar treatment all the time.
Smith demanded the officers “be immediately removed from the police force pending an investigation.”
Attorney Ben Crump is now representing Kye and his family, according to CNN.
“Why is it the Black kid is presumed guilty and the White kid is presumed innocent?” Crump asked. “The Black kid is put face down with a knee in his back and the White kid was allowed to sit on the couch and observe him being humiliated?”
The Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office Internal Affairs Unit is investigating the incident at the request of the Bridgewater Police Department (BPD), the agency said in a Facebook post on Monday.
“The Bridgewater Twp Police Department is aware of a video on social media of our officers stopping a fight in progress at the Bridgewater Commons Mall,” the police department said. “We recognize that this video has made members of our community upset and are calling for an internal affairs investigation.”
“The officers were able to respond quickly to this incident and stop it from escalating because of a tip we received from the community,” the post read. “We have requested that the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office assist us in this matter and are requesting patience as we strictly adhere to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Internal Affairs Directive.”
Watch the incident unfold in the video below. Warning – Graphic Content and Obscene Language:
The Bridgewater Mall Fight is the clearest example of how police actively use race as a shorthand for who they perceive as a threat.
See for yourself. pic.twitter.com/ThJPQFNEzO
— Benjamin Dixon (@BenjaminPDixon) February 16, 2022