Transcript, Web links and Credits below.
Did you hear about this case where police charged a 10-year-old boy with felony assault after another child got hit in the face with a ball during a game of dodgeball? Of course, you can easily guess the race of who threw the ball and the race of who got hit with it.
Today, I’m working with the attorneys for the young boy who was charged with a crime, and we have an action step for us to take together.
Let’s dig in.
This is Shaun King and you are listening to (The Breakdown)!
On April 30, during recess at Erikkson Elementary School in Canton, Michigan, which is about 20 minutes outside of Detroit, kids played dodgeball.
I wasn’t sure if kids still played dodgeball, but my own kids have been in camps this summer here in Brooklyn where they played it everyday. It’s still a thing. And while kids were playing dodgeball — which again, the school allowed — a young boy got hit with the ball and was injured.
Turns out, the family of the boy who was injured says he wasn’t injured because the kid who threw ball was a giant — he’s a tiny little boy. The boy wasn’t injured because the tiny boy who threw the ball had some type of superhuman strength. The boy was so easily injured because his family says he has some type of pre-existing brain condition that makes him easily susceptible to injury. It’s unfortunate. I played dodgeball when I was a kid. Somebody always gets hurt. I think it’s a cruel game actually. I must’ve played it hundreds of times as a kid, and somebody always gets hit in the face with that damn ball and I remember time after time seeing kids with bloody noses and big red splotches on their face from the game. It happens. And as long as schools allow the game, kids are always going to get hurt playing it.
But from the beginning of this incident at Erikkson Elementary School, the boy who threw this ball — who doesn’t have a history of behavior problems or anything else, I checked — he was treated differently. Bryce, who threw this particular ball that hit a boy, was called to the office with other boys. His mother was called to the school. And the school decided to suspend Bryce for throwing the ball. And his mother was dismayed right there.
And I need just a moment to break something down for you. (Break it down voice)
Over a 35 different studies have all come to the same conclusion — black children are suspended from school as much as 600 percent more than white children. And that’s for the exact same mistakes and infractions. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of any 10-year-old child, white or Black, being suspended from school for a game of dodgeball. And that’s the point –— it’s not something kids get suspended for. But what the studies find is that Black children are suspended from school at the drop of a dime — for any minor infraction you can ever imagine. And it’s not just Black boys. It’s Black girls too who are also suspended exponentially more than white girls — and not because they have worse behavior. Again, we’re talking about for the exact same infractions.
And so when Bryce was suspended from school, his mother was shocked. The game was allowed by the school. The teacher provided the balls for the kids to use. All types of boys and girls threw the balls. All types of kids were hit with balls. But since one child was hurt, they suspended 10-year-old Bryce from school.
But then, last week, Bryce’s mother, Cameishi, got a letter in the mail from the District Attorney for Detroit and Wayne County, Kym Worthy — who is consistently horrible — saying that 10 year old Bryce was being charged with an adult felony crime of aggravated assault. Yeah, I’m dead serious.
Let me play you the news clip. (News clip plays).
Yeah, that’s real life. Not only did the school suspend Bryce, but DA Kym Worthy charged this boy with aggravated assault for a game of dodgeball. It’s unheard of. My team searched and searched and we’ve never heard of a case of a 10-year-old child being charged with assault for something like this. It’s absurd.
And Bryce was actually scheduled to go to court yesterday. And you have to imagine — this thing turned his whole life upside down. They are talking about sending this boy to jail because of a game of dodgeball.
And when people not just there in Michigan, but all over the country, and even around the world heard about this case, the outrage grew and grew. As it should have.
And literally the day before Bryce was scheduled to go to court, under all of the mounting pressure, DA Kym Worthy dropped the case, but that’s a mess. Because what that means is that had this story not gone viral, had we never heard of Bryce and he’d probably be in jail right now.
And I spoke this morning with the attorney for the family, Maurice Davis, and here’s what’s crazy. Before they charged a 10-year-old boy with a crime, and sent his family an automated voice message saying he was charged with a crime and had to appear in court on August 1, DA Kym Worthy never even reached out to the family. They didn’t even know that a criminal investigation was underway. 70 days after the game of dodgeball happened, they got just an automated voice message saying that Bryce was being charged with a crime. It’s absurd.
Which brings me to our action step for today. (ACTION STEPS MUSIC)
Dropping this charge against 10-year-old Bryce is not good enough. The family has told me it’s not good enough and the attorneys have told me it’s not good enough. DA Kym Worthy turned their entire life upside down. I don’t think she has even remotely considered the emotional toll it puts on a family to charge a young boy with felony assault and demand he appear before a judge.
We need to let Wayne County District Attorney Kym Worthy know how we feel about what she has done. The family is calling on her to treat child like children. The family is calling on Kym Worthy to stop the school to prison pipeline for Black children. And the family is calling on her to establish clear policies to prevent this from ever happening again.
Worthy should pledge that her office will not prosecute school-based behavior, except under extremely limited exceptions for very serious crimes, a category into which this asserted dodgeball-throwing incident certainly does not fall. To prevent this harm from happening to other children in the future, we ask that Ms. Worthy’s office not accept referrals for prosecution from schools except under these extremely limited exceptions as well. That would not have helped Bryce, however, because the school had already addressed the issue and Ms. Worthy‘s office took it upon themselves to prosecute him. Because of this absolutely disproportionate action, we also ask that Ms. Worthy issue a public apology to Bryce and his family and rescind her statement in which she implied she could still reissue charges at a later date. It’s evil. And we need to let her know about it, OK?
Call (313) 224-5777 or email Kym Worthy at email@example.com
As we always say, be respectful, but firm. Ask to speak to a real person, even leave a message with them if you have to. If they say no, please insist. When you email, please let her know that you are calling on her to apologize, to pledge that she will not charge this type of case in the future, and that you are calling on her to end petty school prosecutions and only accept school referrals in the most serious cases.
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