The Omaha Police Officer Association posted a video to their website this week that is causing outrage around the country. In an attempt to show "the cycle of violence and thuggery" that young children being raised by gang members and "thugs" are trapped in, the OPOA shared a video they had received from a concerned citizen. The citizen came across the video via Facebook.
Hoping to raise awareness among the public of what Omaha Police are up against, the OPOA drew attention to the graphic nature of the video. The child is exposed to strong sexual themes, profanity, gang related conversations, and threatened with violence. Though the video appears to be "playful" by the unseen adults, OPOA president Sergeant John Wells believes viewers are witnessing the thug cycle happening right before their eyes.
"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."Wells also states at the beginning of the blog post that he knew the video would cause viewers to be angry. Watch for yourself and draw your own conclusions. (Warning: Video Contains Graphic Content)
The "toddler thug" video has most certainly created an outrage. Just not the outrage that Wells and the OPOA had intended. The video quickly went viral after being posted, and various African American and minority watchdog groups were angered by the actions of the OPOA. They feel that the OPOA is furthering racial tension in the city of Omaha by sharing this kind of content.
Willie Hamilton, president of the community activist group Black Men United, said the union "crossed a line by doing this."
"For them to take a video out of context -- a 2-year-old who doesn't have the brain capacity to know what's going on -- and to say that this child, because two adults acted inappropriately, is going to end up in a life of crime is totally inappropriate."Hamilton believes Omaha Police should be working to clean up their image with the minority community. In the last year they have faced several lawsuits, one filed just recently by the ACLU from African American families citing racism. Several officers have been fired or reassigned as a result of the perceived racism in the OPD.
Police Chief Todd Schmaderer is also not happy about the amount of attention his department is receiving from the video. He released an official statement reminding the public that the OPOA website is not controlled by the OPD, but by officers on their own time. He further stated that the views do not necessarily represent the views of the OPD, and that his department has no interest in causing a racial divide in their city.
John Wells and the OPOA has turned the video over to the child victim unit, and they are pursuing an investigation into the family who posted the video. The man heard in the background identified himself on the Facebook page as the child's uncle.
Who is more wrong for posting the toddler thug cycle video? The OPOA or the family who made it in the first place?