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Rally about police violence towards local children planned for Tuesday in Pittsfield

Mother suing Pittsfield Township police over handcuffing her 11-year-old son

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – An 11 a.m. rally and press conference will be held on Tuesday to highlight violent interactions between law enforcement and young Black boys.

Hosted by Survivors Speak and Value Black Lives, the event comes after Pittsfield police pointed their guns at 11-year-old Benjamin Whitfield back in April.

“Today, he often wakes up crying in the middle of the night, when he is supposed to be asleep, nightmares haunt him from being criminalized by the police,” said Whitfield’s mother Markia Dixson in a release.

Read: Mother suing Pittsfield Township police over handcuffing her 11-year-old son

Whitfield was in the car when his father was pursued by police in a high-speed chase in April. Police originally tried to stop the vehicle because of a recent shooting at the Briarwood Mall. Whitfield’s father did not pull over due to outstanding warrants resulting in the chase.

Guns were pointed at the 11-year-old when he exited the car and he was put in handcuffs for almost two minutes.

“There is no excuse for the actions of Pittsfield Township police. Pulling a gun on this child and handcuffing him, treating him like a crime suspect, is another example of law enforcement mistreatment of black people. Unfortunately, they have likely done this to other black male children,” said civil rights attorney Dionne Webster-Cox in a release. She represents Whitfield and has partnered with the local organizations to create Tuesday’s event.

“We have to challenge these unjust police practices because they leave our children vulnerable to police brutality and violate their human rights,” Webster-Cox said.

The “Black Boys Matter” event will be held outside the Pittsfield Township Administration Building at 6201 W. Michigan Ave.


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Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.