Philadelphia police allegedly took a 2-year-old child from his mother’s SUV after breaking all the windows and injuring the mother while arresting her.
The nation’s largest police union, the Fraternal Order of Police later shared a photo of the child on Facebook and Twitter, claiming that they found a “lost” child amid the city’s protests, The Washington Post reports. In the image, the Black toddler is seen holding onto the female police officer’s neck.
“This child was lost during the violent riots in Philadelphia, wandering around barefoot in an area that was experiencing complete lawlessness,” the union said in both social media posts that have since been deleted. “The only thing this Philadelphia police officer cared about in that moment was protecting this child.”
“We are not your enemy,” the union added. “We are the Thin Blue Line. And WE ARE the only thing standing between Order and Anarchy.”
The incident took place on a night of protests in Philadelphia, where demonstrators confronted officers over the police murder of Walter Wallace Jr. On Tuesday, 28-year-old Rickia Young borrowed her sister’s car to pick up her 16-year-old nephew from a friend’s house—she also brought her 2-year-old son, hoping that the car ride would lull him to sleep. When she was driving home, she came upon police and protesters. She attempted to turn around when Philadelphia officers surrounded her vehicle, shattered the windows, and pulled Young and her nephew out of the car.
“It’s propaganda,” her attorney, Riley H. Ross III told The Post. “Using this kid in a way to say, ‘This kid was in danger and the police were only there to save him,’ when the police actually caused the danger. That little boy is terrified because of what the police did.”
A video was taken of the incident, which also shows officers taking the toddler from the back seat. The woman who recorded the event, April Rice, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that seeing the cops grab the baby was “surreal” and “traumatic.”
Police temporarily detained Young, who had to be taken to the hospital due to a head injury and bruises. One of her lawyers, Kevin Mincey also told the publication, “Her face was bloodied and she looked like she had been beaten by a bunch of people on the street.” She was separated from her son for hours.
Young’s teenage nephew was also hurt during the incident, and Young’s son was hit on the forehead, leaving a bump. Young asked her mother to find her son, eventually discovering him in the back of a police cruiser, with shards of glass from the SUV’s windows still in his car seat.
The Philadelphia Police Department told The Post that its internal affairs has launched a probe into the matter. Young was released without charges.