Op-Ed: Excessive Use of Force at Ocean City During Senior Week on Black Children

(OCEAN CITY, MD – June 15, 2021) – Black children have the same right to hang out with their friends and have fun during times like Senior Week in Ocean City without the fear of being harmed or killed by police.

Once again, another viral video has shown the world how police harm Black people on a daily basis. This Saturday, Ocean City police officers tased, hogtied, and hurt a young Black teenager over a trivial allegation of vaping on the boardwalk. In a separate incident, an officer kneed a Black teenager while another officer held him down in a prone position – over the same trivial allegation. In the first incident, the Black child had his hands up until police directed him to unhook a backpack strap – police then tased him despite his compliance, causing the teen to lose consciousness and fall to the concrete. Ocean City police officers showed a complete lack of humanity towards these Black children. The police officers showed no regard for their young age or for the pain, trauma, and danger police actions caused them. These incidents are a manifestation of the white supremacy endemic to U.S. policing and add to the disgustingly persistent pattern of police mistreating Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other People of Color nationwide.

Disturbingly, Ocean City police didn’t even try to de-escalate, especially over something as minor as vaping, which is not a criminal issue. The amount of force used here was inappropriate. Police officers need to be trained on Maryland’s new Use of Force standard, which will take effect on June 1, 2022. This new Use of Force standard will work to prevent similar incidents of unnecessary brutality and hold officers accountable for failure to properly exercise force.

Maryland’s policing system is working exactly as intended and that is unacceptable. This disturbing incident shows that recent use of force legislation is just the beginning of reform and that more work needs to be done to reimagine policing so that the lives of Black and Brown people are protected. Officers must be held accountable for excessive and unnecessary use of force even when they are not captured on video. Change is not optional.