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An 11-year-old Black boy was “attacked” by police during “Kids Day” at the California State Fair, according to his family and Black Lives Matter Sacramento.
Elijah Hunter’s family, their attorney, Black Lives Matter Sacramento and the Greater Sacramento National Association for the Advancement of Colored People gathered Monday for a news conference to demand policy changes at Cal Expo, which hosts the fair.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento said in a statement that Elijah was “brutally attacked” and had “his rights violated by Cal Expo police” while at the fair with family and friends.
Cal Expo did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. But in a statement to KCRA, Cal Expo spokesperson Darla Givens said Elijah suffered a small cut. She said he was stopped by police because he was trying to steal from vendors and climbing a fence.
A spokeswoman for Black Lives Matter Sacramento told NBC News that Elijah “was horse playing while in line, while they all pretended to be cutting in front of each other.”
“Elijah was tackled by police and his friends were not. Elijah is Black and his friends are white,” the spokeswoman said.
Elijah was taken into an interrogation room, while his mother begged to be allowed in the room, the spokeswoman said. She was not allowed in and Elijah was forced to sign a trespassing document saying he is banned from the fair.
“There is no amount of horse play that validates grown police officers to tackle and beat a child,” the spokeswoman said.
Black Lives Matter Sacramento is asking for the officers to be fired and charged with child abuse. The officers work for the fair’s own police detail, but are off-duty officers from other departments. It’s not clear which departments the officers involved were hired from.
Cynthia Martin, Elijah’s mother, said during the news conference that his shirt was covered in blood after police tackled him, NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento reported.
“They knew that they injured him because they provided the first-aid before we even made it to Kaiser hospital, where he received further treatment,” Martin said.
An attorney for the family has started the process of filing a lawsuit, according to Black Lives Matter Sacramento.
“The violence inflicted on 11-year-old Elijah is appalling and has impacted him physically and emotionally,” the organization said in a statement said. “There is no reason for a mostly idle police department to treat a child as a criminal.”