St. Louis, Missouri - This week, the St. Louis Police Department posted an insulting piece of advice on their social media pages. Their advice to parents who are sick and tired of seeing their children shot in the streets? Teach them to be more afraid of the police, apparently.
According to the St. Louis Police Department, children like the recently murdered Tamir Rice and their parents are the ones to blame when the child gets shot by a cop for carrying a toy gun. The post actually makes specific mention of the case of Tamir Rice, and attempts to abdicate the murdering officer from any responsibility in the killing.
It is sadly rare for police to actually stand up in these cases and admit that one of their own has done something wrong. Even a 12-year-old boy playing in a park is open season for these police officers.
Of course the St. Louis police department was met with heavy backlash and the post was pulled.
A screenshot of the post, which was captured by The Verge, can be viewed below:
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The full text of the social media post can be read below:
On November 22nd 2014, a Cleveland Police Officer shot 12 year old Tamir Rice who had his hand on an Airsoft pistol. The Airsoft pistol had the orange warning tip removed. I do not know all the details of the story; I encourage you to research reliable resources and educated yourself about the incident. This article is not about this a boy losing his life, whether this was a justified shooting or, whether the cops acted too fast. This is about the Fenton Precinct making residents aware of a "hot" topic and learning from this incident so Fenton never loses a child’s life. If you or your children have an Airsoft or pellet gun please sit them down and talk to them about this tragedy. Your children should have rules for "toy" guns that mirror the rules of a real weapon. Pellet guns and Airsoft guns should not be allowed to be played with throughout the neighborhood, common grounds, or used to threaten or intimidate people. Pellet guns have no orange warning tip because they are considered weapons; Airsoft guns do have orange tip. Please inspect your child’s Airsoft gun to make sure the orange tip has not been altered or removed. These guns are very realistic.
Pellet gun laws are the same as any weapon in the City of Fenton. Children cannot carry a weapon and they cannot shoot this weapon within the city limits. Airsoft guns are considered toys, but city ordinance prohibits the "shooting of any projectile within the city limits". Warn them that these "toys" do look like real guns and could result in the police getting called on them. The police may get called to respond to "a child with a gun", "maybe a toy gun", it is important to know how officers are trained to respond.
If the type of gun is in question by the witness, the Police will respond as though it is a real gun until it can be confirmed one way or the other. Remember if an Airsoft pistol is tucked in your pants like a holster then obviously the orange tip is no longer visible. The police will respond lights and sirens and come to a screeching halt in the area where your child is playing with the gun. Here are some tips to help your child respond appropriately. Do not run away. They need to no longer have the gun in their hands, throw it away from them. They need to comply with officers instructions. They may be ordered to lie down on the ground. Clear communication between your child and the police is essential. Police need to know that it is a toy gun; I do hope I am explaining a scenario that will never happen in our area.
So again, "kids will be kids", and your children will continue playing war in the common grounds. Share this with your children; tell this story to families that might need this information, and encourage your kids to talk to classmates about this. Working together we will keep our community a safe place.
Thursday afternoon, Chief of Police Jon Belmar issued an apology, saying that his office had not been made aware of the statement until after it was posted and had changed its social media policy to prevent future mistakes. "I apologize to Tamir's family and anyone who was offended by the post," he wrote. "The post conveyed the message that my officers respond to calls involving a child with a gun with indiscretion and little regard for life. I want to emphasize that my officers respond to calls with discernment, and have the highest regard for human life. We train officers to take all facts and circumstances into consideration when making decisions about using force."
A comment on the Chief's post brings up a powerful point. A person asks, "How many police officers have been shot by 12 year olds in the past 10 years?"
Below is that entire post:
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war. In addition to his writing and activist work he is also the owner of a successful music promotion company. In 2013, he became one of the organizers of the Free Your Mind Conference, which features top caliber speakers and whistle-blowers from all over the world. You can contact him and stay connected to his work at his Facebook page. You can find his 65 chapter Book entitled “Alchemy of the Timeless Renaissance” at bookpatch.com.