The Somali-American teenage boys who were wrongfully handcuffed and detained by police in Minnesota have spoken out for the first time, with one of them calling himself a victim of discrimination.
“When the cops came they pulled guns to our faces,” Aden Aden said at a news conference Monday. “I felt like I was discriminated [against]. I hope it never happens to anyone again.”
The teens were handcuffed last week after a 911 call to police alleging they possessed weapons, authorities said. No weapons were found on any of the teens and they were later released, with police now looking for the person who made the apparently false 911 call.
Aden was handcuffed along with Abdijabbar Ahmed, Suhaib Ahmed and an unnamed teen ranging in ages from 13 to 16.
Cellphone video from the July 10 incident shows two of the boys handcuffed and sitting on the ground at Minnehaha Regional Park in Minneapolis as bystanders asked police why the teens were being restrained. One boy asked police several times whether he could put his shirt on because he was being bitten by bugs but he was denied.
“The way that our children were dealt with was subhuman,” Aden’s mother, Sirat Guffe, said at the news conference, speaking in Arabic. "[Police] treated our children as felons and thugs.”
The officers responded to the 911 call describing “an escalating, dangerous situation and reports of weapons at Minnehaha Regional Park,” according to a statement from Minneapolis Park Police.
The caller reported “four males holding knives and sticks,” and that one suspect had a gun in his backpack. Police were given detailed descriptions of the four suspects that matched the four teens, authorities said.
Minneapolis Park Police acknowledged that when officers saw the boys, one of them did un-holster his firearm and point it in the direction of the four suspects. None of the four boys was injured.
Witness Brianna Lindell, who recorded video of the incident and posted it to Facebook, wrote that before police arrived she saw a young white male harassing the teen boys and hurling racial slurs at them.
Lindell also observed that a girl who was with the white male was on the phone. The teen boys also mentioned the harassment during the news conference.
Park police are still looking for the 911 caller, ABC St. Paul affiliate KSTP-TV reported.
The officers involved in the incident are still on duty while the investigation continues, authorities said.