As a resident of Tennessee, affectionately known as “The Volunteer State”, I have much to be ashamed of. Over the past several months Tennessee has passed legislation that works to block mental health care to the LGBT community and most recently in a fit of Christian zeal has passed legislation making The Holy Bible Tennessee’s official state book, a measure that was thankfully vetoed by Governor Bill Haslam.
Being a left-leaning independent voter in the deep south can be tricky sometimes, especially for an agnostic that tends to bend very liberal on social issues such as gay marriage, abortion and the legalization of marijuana. But perhaps the hardest transition for me to get use to since moving here from the more progressive city of Norfolk, Virginia in 2007, is the small mindedness of a community that gets all its higher thought from the town church and most of their political opinions from the corrupt propaganda machine known as Fox News.
This past week in Murfreesboro TN yet another embarrassing incident occurred when a group of small children ranging ages 6 to 10 years old were dragged out of Hobgood Elementary school in handcuffs for a situation that happened earlier that day outside of school grounds. And what crime could have been committed that was so heinous police felt it necessary to grab these young children from their classrooms and throw them in a squad car headed straight to the pokey? A drug deal gone wrong perhaps? Mass vandalism and civil disobedience, deeming these children an imminent threat to their classmates? Wrong on both counts, these children, some of whom are barely out of diapers, were arrested for the scandalous act of not breaking up a local neighborhood fight.
The terrible chain of events all started Friday morning when an altercation broke out off campus. Although the children arrested were not directly involved in the fight, they were carted off to the local juvenile detention center for not taking it upon themselves to play peacemaker and break up the skirmish. Shortly after more than 150 Murfreesboro residents gathered at the First Baptist Church to voice their understandable outrage over the ridiculous but equally unjust arrest.
Among the many parents to speak out against yet another overreach by law enforcement in the black community, was Zacchaeus Crawford, parent of three of the children arrested, and claims only one of his children were even there. Crawford spoke candidly to the crowd lamenting,
They are getting carted off and being detained for something they didn’t have anything to do with. My anger is not just festering. I’m not going to lie to you, my anger is over boiling
Another speaker at the meeting, Officer Christopher Williams tried to deescalate the situation by apologizing and telling the crowd of his own reaction to what occurred,
My wife has seen me cry twice. She saw me once when my grandfather died, and she saw me cry Friday. The principal shed tears, the vice principal shed tears, and the office staff shed tears
A response that was appreciated by some but generally dismissed by others.
No matter which side of the political fence you fall on, it is hard for anyone to deny America has a real problem with it’s growing prison industrial complex as more and more Americans are arrested for seemingly small infractions in order to continually fill the coffers of an entity that has no business being involved with law enforcement on any level, that entity of course being corporations.
Featured image via WKRN video screengrab