12-Year-Old Girl Arrested in School For Doodling on Desk
A 12-year-old Queens girl was hauled out of school in handcuffs for an artless offense - doodling her name on her desk in erasable marker.
Alexa Gonzalez was scribbling a few words on her desk Monday while waiting for her Spanish teacher to pass out homework at Junior High School 190 in Forest Hills, she said.
"I love my friends Abby and Faith," the girl wrote, adding the phrases "Lex was here. 2/1/10" and a smiley face.I think I was in 9th grade when I got caught doodling on my desk by my Geometry teacher, in pencil. "I'll erase it!" I promised him with a smile and he lectured me about "defacing school property." Alexa Gonzalez got a hell of a lot more than a lecture. "She was led out of school in cuffs and walked to the precinct across the street, where she was detained for several hours," according to the Daily News.
"I started crying, like, a lot," said Alexa. "I made two little doodles. ... It could be easily erased. To put handcuffs on me is unnecessary." Alexa, who had a stellar attendance record, hasn't been back to school since, adding, "I just thought I'd get a detention. I thought maybe I would have to clean [the desk]."Stories like these are almost too outrageous for words, and the pathetic response from the city -- a lame acknowledgment that "this shouldn't have happened" ("We're looking at the facts") -- doesn't help. A police spokesperson admitted that "even when we're asked to make an arrest, common sense should prevail, and discretion used in deciding whether an arrest or handcuffs are really necessary." Let's not overthink it NYPD: Arresting this girl was never necessary. Incredibly, Alexa remains suspended from school and has been "assigned eight hours of community service, a book report and an essay on what she learned from the experience," according to the Daily News.
"I definitely learned not to ever draw on a desk," said Alexa. "They told me with a pencil this could still happen."Just this week,New York Times columnist Bob Herbert wrote a column titled "Jim Crow Policing." It's opening paragraph:
The New York City Police Department needs to be restrained. The nonstop humiliation of young black and Hispanic New Yorkers, including children, by police officers who feel no obligation to treat them fairly or with any respect at all is an abomination. That many of the officers engaged in the mistreatment are black or Latino themselves is shameful.Herbert cites statistics that demonstrate the way the NYPD has effectively criminalized entire populations of the city. In the first two thirds of 2009, he reports, 450,000 people were stopped by the police, a significant jump from 2008. "An overwhelming 84 percent ... were black or Hispanic New Yorkers." Almost all of them were pointless:
Contraband, which usually means drugs, was found in only 1.6 percent of the stops of black New Yorkers. For Hispanics, it was just 1.5 percent. For whites, who are stopped far less frequently, contraband was found 2.2 percent of the time.What does this have to do with Alexa Gonzalez? Everything, when you consider theracial breakdown of Junior High School 190. In New York City, the schools with the heaviest police presence are those with the largest populations of students of color. Writing about NYPD's stop-and-frisks, Herbert says "these encounters with the police are degrading and often frightening." In Alexa Gonzalez's case, being handcuffed and marched out of school in front of her classmates for an offense that should merit detention at worst has clearly been traumatizing. "She's been throwing up," Alexa's mother, Moraima Tamacho, told the Daily News. "The whole situation has been a nightmare."
Alexa Gonzalez, age 12