Guns Drawn, Newark Police Mistakenly Pursue A 10-year-old. | Gradient

Guns drawn, Newark police mistakenly pursue a 10-year-old.


On August 10, Legend Preston was shooting his basketball into a child-sized rim, the kind of safe fun you’d hope a ten-year-old might do to safely entertain himself. However, Newark police officers, mistaking him for a robbery suspect, chased the boy into an alley, allegedly pointing their shotguns at Preston while they were in pursuit. From ABC7:

“Some police started coming this way with guns pointed at me, and then I ran into the backyard,” Legend says.

Just before that, Legend was shooting hoops at a basketball court when the ball rolled into the street. Legend ran after it, and thought the officers were chasing after him for running into the street without looking.

“I ran because they thought that I rolled the ball into the street on purpose, and they were just holding shot guns at me trying to shoot me,” Legend adds.

The Newark Police say they did have their guns out but never pointed them at the 10-year-old while they were in the alley. Witnesses intervened, telling the officers the person they detained was a child.

“He’s only 10 years old, how you all chasing him? He’s only a kid. I’m like, ‘that’s messed up’,” said Jackie Kelly.

The serendipity of having neighbors vouch for Preston’s innocence and his childhood is swiftly muted by the misfortune of being a black boy in a city like Newark. And a startling move, the kind you might expect from a fifth grader in a life or death situation, or being at a wronger place at a wronger time, like Tamir Rice’s Cleveland playground or Trayvon Martin’s gated community, could have tragically ended his story. It would have altered how we tell Preston’s story, for not only would he be, to some, a slain child victimized by a ruthless and unaccountable police force, but for far too many, his hashtag would draw endless justifications for his death. Why was he running if he didn’t do anything? Shouldn’t his father have raised him to respect the authorities? Did he even have a father? Well, now there’s the problem in those communities, what a shame. 

In a heart-wrenching Facebook video recorded moments after the chase by Preston’s mother, Patisha, she ended with this statement:

“A ten-year-old child with guns drawn on him by Newark police, and the best they can tell me is go make a report if I have something to say about it.”

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