New Jersey cops who handcuffed and pinned a black middle schooler in a mall while ignoring the older white boy he was fighting with should turn in their badges, the teenager’s attorney told the Post on Friday.
“They should be relieved of their duties if they think they’re good policing…because that’s how our kids get hashtags,” civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said of white officers during from a Zoom call with The Post and Z, 14. ‘Kye Husain and his mother Ebone
The teenager was hanging out at Bridgewater Commons Mall on Saturday when an 11th grader he had never met before started harassing his friend, who is in 7th grade, he said.
” I do not know him. And he made fun of him because he was smaller and younger. He was kind of walking into our conversation, and then my young friend came in and said, ‘Why are you getting into our conversation? Like, mind your own business,” Z’Kye recounted.
When the taller teenager continued to harass the group and stuck his finger in Z’Kye’s face, the two came to blows, a viral cellphone video showed.
Two Bridgewater Township officers arrived to see the older teenager above Z’Kye – whom they handcuffed and restrained with knees to his back and neck while letting his alleged bully sit on the sofa, as per pictures.
“The only thing they saw was that he was above me,” Z’Kye told the Post, attributing the lopsided response to racial profiling. “I was scared and it made me think…it made me feel small and inferior; as if I were less important than the older child.
Even the other fighter was caught off guard by the police response, according to Crump.
“Eventually the white kid even puts his hands up thinking he’s going to be handcuffed and the white policewoman just taps him on the shoulder and says ‘you’re free to go,'” the lawyer said.
“When you see this video, it’s just shocking because it underscores what we’ve been saying all along, which is that police treat black people differently than white people. For decades, black people have been saying that.
Z’Kye was returned to his mother half an hour after the fight, he said. The two teenagers were banned from the mall for three years.
Footage of the incident sparked an internal review by the police department. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy noted he was “deeply disturbed by what appears to be racially disparate treatment in this video”.
After Ebone saw the clip, she reached out to Crump to help publicize the incident to “fight for this concept of equal justice.” The spotlight that followed was tough on mother and son, she said.
“He was stressed. It’s hurt everyone’s sanity, I can’t even work. So it was expensive,” Ebone told the Post. “He can’t live without thinking about the same night over and over again. Besides the fact that he’s been there.
Even though Z’Kye was not injured by police, shedding light on the incident could prevent a more serious outcome in the future, Crump said.
“If you don’t do anything about it, next time it may end with a Trayvon Martin or an Ahmaud Arbery. That’s why we’re so convinced to say that it must have a responsibility.
Additional reporting by Lee Brown