MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It is the picture that is making jaws drop: little children on their knees and with hands up as police cars drive by their front yard.
It is a disturbing image, and one Memphis Police Officer Rico Donald couldn’t ignore.
That sight might surprise you, but he told WREG it is not uncommon, even with children as young as these.
“Occasionally you see the ‘Hands up! Don’t shoot!’ movements,” he said.
But rather than shake his head and keep driving through the Whitehaven neighborhood, Donald decided to stop.
“Me and my partner just pulled up, and I told them to come here. They were a little shy, scared, what not.”
Donald asked them why they did that.
They told him they did not learn it from their parents, but from movies and the news.
“I think we all know about what’s going on in society with police and especially the black community,” Donald said.
NAACP President Reverend Keith Norman thinks both the picture and Donald’s decision to stop speaks volumes.
“Had he not stopped, those kids would have continued to believe that the police are bad.”
Donald told them they did not have to be scared.
“If they keep that scared mentality when they’re young, as they get older it’s going to be, ‘Ok, I’m not scared, but I don’t like the police any more.'”
But more than that, he took time to learn about them.
The kids wanted to show off trophies and even opened up about their dreams.
“The youngest one wanted to be a police officer. The second one wanted to do sports, and the young lady, she wanted to be a teacher.”
Donald posted about his experience on social media.
But he insists most of his brothers and sisters in blue would do exactly the same.
He just wants to make sure you know that.
“Shout out to all the officers who do the same thing. It’s just mine… I didn’t expect this.”
Officer Donald also asks that parents to even stop jokingly telling their kids that the police are going to get them for being bad.
He wants kids to come to officers for help, not be scared of them.