19-month-old Bounkham (“Bou Bou”) Phonesavanh was sleeping peacefully with his family the night he was the newest survivor of police brutality. The family of six relocated to Atlanta home that belonged to the toddler’s family on his father’s side. Bou Bou’s father is a Laotian refugee, who escaped a war raging his home and community in Laos to wake up to similar events in his American home with his own family.
Atlanta SWAT enforcement raided the home in search of “a small amount of drugs.” The family drives a minivan with stick figure decals featuring their family with four children (girls aged 7, 5 and 3; Bou Bou 19 months) and a yard full of kids toys. With clear indication of children in and near the house, they broke down the door and attacked the father with no sign of the real suspect, the nephew, who did not even live there. An officer threw the father to the ground and tossed a flashbang grenade, which extremely emits light and sound that it temporarily blinds and deafens. This grenade bounced and landed right on top of their toddler son’s chest and blew a hole, which the mother refuses to look because doctors said his ribs are exposed.
Police brutality among communities of color continue to be a huge problem in this country all for the war on drugs. Militarized local enforcement affects civilian trust and safety with people paying with their lives. Fortunately, Baby Bou Bou and his family are in the process of recovery but not before the Phonesavanh family are working with ACLU to take legal action against routine police brutality against marginalized groups:
I know that too many local cops have stockpiled weapons that were made for soldiers to take to war. And as is usually the case with aggressive policing, I know that people of color and poor people are more likely to be targeted. I know these things because of the American Civil Liberties Union’s new report, and because I’m working with them to push for restraints on the use of SWAT. – Alecia Phonesavanh, mom to Bou Bou
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