Adam Toledo's Killing is Part of a Brutal Pattern of Child Killings in AmericaRoundup
tags: Police, police brutality
Keisha N. Blain is an award-winning historian and writer. She is an associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh and has written extensively on race, gender, and politics in national and global perspectives. She is the author of the multi-prize-winning book Set the World on Fire: Black Nationalist Women and the Global Struggle for Freedom.
The death of Adam Toledo, a 13-year-old Mexican American boy who was shot by a Chicago police officer, has sparked a new wave of national outrage over police violence. Many point to the inconsistencies in the officer's narrative and the efforts of public officials to conceal aspects of the case after police bodycam video was released to the public Thursday.
During a news conference April 5, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot emphasized the presence of a gun at the scene, implying that Adam may have pointed a gun at officers on the morning of March 29. Police officials bolstered this claim when they insisted that Adam was shot during an "armed confrontation" with an officer.
But the bodycam video poked holes in this narrative. It shows a terrified boy running away from a police officer. It also shows that Adam's hands were up in the air when the officer fired the shot that killed him.
The Toledo case is the latest piece of a troubling pattern of police killings of children — especially Black and Latino children. It echoes the tragic 2014 killing of Tamir Rice in Cleveland and the 2010 police killing of 7-year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones during an apartment raid in Detroit.
According to The Washington Post's Mapping Police Violence Project, more than 30 children have been killed by police since 2013. The project also shows that Chicago police have killed more children than any other local law enforcement agency in the country. Recent data from the Justice Department shows that 83 percent of incidents in which police used force against minors involved Black children and 14 percent involved Latino children.
These cases follow a grim pattern that has galvanized activists dating to the last century. In 1951, more than 100 Black activists and intellectuals signed a U.N. petition titled "We Charge Genocide" to bring international attention to the pattern of state-sanctioned racist violence in the U.S.