The Omaha, Nebraska police union is being accused of racism after posting an extremely disturbing video of several unidentified black adults verbally abusing a diaper-wearing toddler.
But a spokesperson for the union said police were trying to highlight the depraved nature of the some of the people in communities they patrol.
The video was shot on a cell phone, and shows a black toddler in a diaper knock over a chair in the kitchen of a home. Several people — at least one black man and woman — who are not show on camera, address the toddler in highly offensive language, saying things such as “fuck you,” “you a bitch nigga,” and “say suck my dick,” to him. The toddler’s manners aren’t much better; he eagerly gives his tormentors the finger.
Later, the “adults” discuss sex and gang membership while the child listens.
In the version of the video shown by CNN, the toddler’s face is blurred. The Omaha Police Officers’ Association published an un-blurred version, however.
The union explained that the video was lifted from the Facebook page of a “local thug.” Police defended its publication as educational.
“We here at OmahaPOA.com viewed the video and we knew that despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in,” wrote the union in a statement.
Officer John Wells, president of the union, said he was sickened by the video, but thought it was important to publicize the horrors faced by young people in troubled communities.
“The focus here isn’t on any particular ethnic group,” he said in a statement to CNN. “The focus here is on the troubling behavior towards this child. This behavior is going to potentially lead this child down a path that is completely unhealthy.”
This move was criticized by numerous community leaders, including a spokesperson for Omaha’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who accused the police of using “racially charged language.”
“The manner in which the Officers Association has discussed this incident has done nothing but further erode community trust and reinforce the need for independent oversight, trainings, and other reforms,” said ACLU Nebraska Executive Director Becki Brenner in a statement.
Willie Hamilton, a community activist, said posting the video “crossed a line.”
Omaha police took heavy criticism earlier this week after a local family filed a federal lawsuit alleging that they suffered wrongful search and seizure and brutality at the hands of several officers. (RELATED: Lawsuit: Omaha police beat man on street, threw woman out of wheelchair)