OMAHA, Neb. — Officials with Child Protective Services (CPS) in Nebraska have removed a toddler from his home, along with three other children, after video footage surfaced online of the toddler being cursed at and spewing profanities right back at the adults who egged him on.
According to reports, the video went viral after it was posted to the Omaha Police Officers Association website, stating that they “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.”
In the video, a black male toddler dressed only in his diaper is barraged with profanities and racial slurs by three off-camera men. However, the boy amuses the adults around him when he begins cursing right back, knocking over a chair and given the men the middle finger.
The adults then continue to egg on the child, asking him to repeat curse words after them, using explicit sexual lingo and asking him “what hood you from, blood,” in reference to gang affiliations. A reported 35 uses of profanity were exchanged between those in the room during the minute-and-a-half video.
Following community outrage surrounding the footage, which had first been posted to Facebook, Nebraska Child Protective Services removed the two-year-old boy and three other children from their home on Wednesday. His mother, a 16-year-old juvenile, was also removed for protective purposes. She told television station KETV on Friday that her brother’s friend had recorded the footage, and that she does not allow her son to use profanity.
“He’s a smart little boy. All that cussing that he did, he doesn’t do that,” the girl said, who is not being named because of her age. “Somebody told him to do that. My son doesn’t do that. I don’t allow it.”
She said she disapproved of what took place in the video footage.
“He was wrong for doing that … posting the video up and getting us into this situation,” the teen stated. “Everybody thinks I’m a bad mother; I’m not. I’m a good mother to my son. I teach him a lot. He’s very smart.”
But the Omaha Police Officers Association released new information following the seizure of the child that the boy had been surrounded by a life of drugs, gangs and violence. It reported that the child’s father is dead following a gang homicide at 17, that the toddler’s grandfather is in prison on drug and felony weapons charges, and his grandmother is in jail for felony possession of a firearm.
The Association also stated that the home was the subject of a recent gang raid, and that the 16-year-old mother was once a shooting victim.
“Despite all of this, the state did not remove the child until this video infuriated law abiding citizens by giving them a glimpse into the terrifying deadly cycle that this child is trapped in,” it wrote. “Without the intense public attention, it’s fair to conclude—based on the past—that the child would probably still be in that home today. This is all too real folks.”
However, some have now taken issue with the Association’s decision to post the video online, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), stating that it will inflame stereotypes against minorities.
“Officers should be working to build a culture where anyone feels comfortable calling law enforcement,” said Becki Brenner, Executive Director of ACLU of Nebraska, in a statement this week. “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.”
But Association President John Wells disagreed.
“The focus here isn’t on any particular ethnic group. The focus here is on the troubling behavior toward this child,” he told CNN. “This behavior is going to potentially lead this child down a path that is completely unhealthy.”
No charges have been filed against the adults in the footage.