Two Tennessee lawmakers are calling for a state and federal Justice Department investigation into the conduct of a small town police department that handcuffed and arrested at least ten children aged 6-to-11 years old at their elementary school last Friday. The arrests took place at Hobgood Elementary School, located about 40 miles outside of Nashville in Murfreesboro, Tenn., because the students allegedly had not intervened to break up an off-campus fight that took place nearly a month prior.
"Today I call on United States Department of Justice to immediately open an investigation into the reported arrest and handcuffing of children as young as 6 by the Murfreesboro police," Democratic state Rep. Mike Stewart said Tuesday. "There is no explanation for such inexcusable conduct perpetrated against young children who were peacefully attending elementary school when accosted, handcuffed and jailed."
The Murfreesboro Police Deparment has been largely silent on the details of the case because it involves juveniles. The alleged fight, which took place during a neighborhood pickup basketball game, was described by one parent to the local ABC-affiliate as “no more than a scuffle of children pushing each other back and forth.” A video shot on a cell phone surfaced that led the Murfreesboro Police Department to take the extraordinary step and handcuff the elementary school students at school. The students were then taken from school to a juvenile center and “charged with the misdemeanor of being criminally responsible for the conduct of others,” according to the Murfreesboro Post.
Parents and members of the local community are, understandably, upset by the treatment. “More than 150 people, almost entirely African-American, gathered at First Baptist Church on East Castle Street in Murfreesboro Sunday afternoon to discuss the incident,” the Tennessean reports. Police and town officials have promised a review of the situation.