Fort Myers Police Harass Black Teenagers

Florida Teens Harassed and Fingerprinted at McDonald’s for Eating while Black

A new video surfaced on Facebook showing what it is like to eat while Black in Fort Myers, as police continue to target young Black teens.

This is not the first time that the department has made headlines for targeting young Black men.

This time officers were caught harassing minors.

The video starts off with activist Kat Duesterhaus repeatedly asking Fort Myers Police Officers Morales and Hernandez what they were doing.

When officers refused to answer her questions on what they were doing, she then asks the officers why there was someone in the back seat of a patrol vehicle.

“My little brother is sitting in the back seat of their car,” the man sitting on the parking lot tells Duesterhaus.

Duesterhaus then asks the officers why a 15-year-old was in the back of the patrol car.

The officers respond that they are waiting for a sergeant.

Duesterhaus asks the man on the ground for background on why they were being detained.

“I guess because they are not in school and they are not home, that they have to verify who they are. So they put him in handcuffs.”

A minor under the age of 16 in the state of Florida that skips school is considered “a child in need of services.”

Per Florida Statutes 984.15:

“All proceedings seeking an adjudication that a child is a child in need of services shall be initiated by the filing of a petition by an attorney representing the department or by the child’s parent , guardian , or legal custodian”

The camera switched back to Duesterhaus as she tells her viewers that there are two children currently in police custody. Three minutes into the video Duesterhaus continues to tell the viewers that the officers still have not said why the teens were detained.

Shortly after, Lee County sheriff officers arrived on scene to fingerprint the teenagers.

Lee County Sheriffs Department became notorious for violating Black citizens their rights and harassing them over the years.

The gentleman later explains to Duesterhaus that the boys were in his care and that they made a trip to McDonald’s to get food. He tells her that they stayed home, so they could help take care of their dad.

Duesterhaus walks over to the patrol car with the teenagers in it, as another officer arrives on scene.

“Ya’ll we’re watching on social media. We got ya’lls back right now. You don’t have to say anything to these officers, my lawyer said so. I spoke with them on the way over. This is essentially targeting right now.”

The sheriff shuts the door and turns around telling Duesterhaus that she needs to have parental consent to record the teenagers, yet the law states that if a guardian is present on scene they can deny an officer the ability to speak to a minor and the same officer ignores that law when the older brother announces that the children are in his care due to family issues.

Duesterhaus asks one of the officers if this is normal procedure to finger print minors when they are detained. The officer shrugs off her question.

The teenagers older brother tell Duesterhaus 16-minutes into the video that the detainment has already lasted more than two hours.

The video lasts 26-minutes and ends with the teenagers being driven away to an unknown location.

America’s Police Problem Media reached out to Duesterhaus for comment after the video was posted online.

“I would like to know how many white kids have been treated in this manner in Fort Myers, but I suspect this was a matter of racist policing. After all, Fort Myers is a city once known for its KKK activities and today many deep seated beliefs and wounds remain. I fear the police state will only be growing here in the heart of Southwest Florida under the Mayoral leadership of Kevin Anderson. Kevin is a white man and former officer with Fort Myers Police Department, and I have heard first person accounts of his racial targeting by members of the local Black community who encountered his policing as kids. Being on the street while Black should not be a crime, but historically in Fort Myers – and many other places – it has been. From what I’ve seen today, this problem of racist policing may still be ongoing; though a look at the statistics will say for sure. Regardless, I’m sure today was a very scary event for those young men, and in my opinion armed police officers should not be involved in cases of suspected school truancy.”

APP Media has reached out to the McDonald’s Owner/Operator Deana Homsi, via email, requesting store footage of the incident. APP Media also requested the police reports, body camera footage, and dashcam footage from the Fort Myers Police Department.

It is unclear at the moment if McDonald’s called the police.

You can check out more of Duesterhaus’s work here.

This is a developing story and we will continue to update it.

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