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‘Plain old racist’: Teen in New Jersey mall fight condemns arrest of Black youth

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Protesters speak at the Bridgewater Township Municipal Complex in Bridgewater, New Jersey on Saturday. (Photo via The Guardian)

A US teen who was involved in a mall fight that went viral says police were wrong to treat him differently than the other youth involved in the altercation, who is Black.

The video shows the teenagers are arguing at a mall in New Jersey on Feb. 12 when the officers arrive to break up the brawl. The officers then handcuff and pin the Black teen, 14, to the ground while the white teen, 15, involved in the feud is left to sit on a couch.

The older teen told he offered to the officers that he be detained. He also said his mother is Colombian and his father is Pakistani.

“I don’t understand why they arrested him and not me,” he said. “I say, that was just plain old racist. I don’t condone that at all.”

“I offered to get detained after [the other boy] was detained, and they turned my offer down. I even asked they why they detained [the other boy] and not me, and they said because [he] was resisting”.

On Saturday friends, family and supporters of the Black teen held a protest in front of Bridgewater Township police headquarters, to criticize what they say was racist treatment.

His family has retained civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who said last week that the youth “was no more of a threat to those officers than the white teen who fought with him. This is another example of the kind of racial bias that we need to root out of our system of policing.”

“This is another example of the kind of racial bias that we need to root out of our system of policing,” Crump said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Phil Murphy said, “The appearance of what is racially disparate treatment is deeply, deeply disturbing, and another reminder that progress we’ve made on relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve … shows that our work is not done.”

Police brutality has sparked mass protests across the US in recent years. The police killing of George Floyd in 2020 was one of the most high-profile cases.

Floyd, an African-American, died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.

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