On the criminalization of young black and brown boys.


Fifteen years ago, an 11 year-old girl, Ryan Harris, was found dead in a vacant lot on the city’s south side. She’d been raped and strangled. A detective–all too eager to close the case–collared two neighborhood boys. After being bullied for hours and kept from their parents (who had no clue that their sons were being held for murder) they confessed to sexually assaulting the girl, killing her, and stealing her bike. Mass media hysteria soon followed, as talking heads everywhere rushed to vilify the children. Some even called for the death penalty.

Romarr Gipson was seven years old. His accomplice, eight.

A month later the police found the man who would eventually serve a life sentence for the murder. According to authorities, Floyd Durr had left traces of semen on her underwear, something seven and eight year-olds are incapable of doing, as most people who have passed a…

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