Police “attacked” an 11-year-old Black boy 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 NAACP gathered Monday at 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 he was at the fair with family and friends.
Cal Expo did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. In a statement to NBC affiliate KCRA of Sacramento, Cal Expo spokesperson Darla Givens said Elijah suffered a small cut.
A spokeswoman for Black Lives Matter Sacramento told NBC News that Elijah “was horseplaying 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 signed a trespassing document saying he is banned from the fair.
“There is no amount of horseplay 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 for the fair’s police detail are off-duty officers from other departments. It is not clear which departments the officers involved were hired from.
Cynthia Martin, Elijah’s mother, said at the news conference that his shirt was covered in blood after police tackled him, KCRA 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, Black Lives Matter Sacramento said.
“The violence inflicted on 11-year-old Elijah is appalling and has impacted him physically and emotionally,” it said in a statement. “There is no reason for a mostly idle police department to treat a child as a criminal.”