Lunch Money Dispute Gone Wrong

Autumn R.

Staff Writer

Imagine seeing a second grader handcuffed; it is a disturbing picture, right? Then try to understand that a second grader was being tried as a juvenile over five dollars.  Try to picture being in second grade or having a seven-year-old child and finding out that he was handcuffed at school and taken to a police department over a lunch money dispute. In December, seven-year-old Wilson Mendez, from Bronx, New York, was handcuffed to a rail in a local police station. The country as a whole is wondering what exactly happened to escalate the dispute to such a level that the NYPD had to interfere and take control.

The public school that Mendez attended stated that he had hit a nine-year-old boy and stolen his lunch money. Because it was a “fight,” the scphoto.JPGhool called the police, who came and handcuffed the young Mendez. The school claimed that any type of fight on school grounds required police assistance. The NYPD immediately took Mendez to the police station and allegedly began to mistreat him. Mendez’s mother was furious and is now suing the police station and the school for 250 million dollars. The police department claims that they never interrogated the child to the extent of hours claimed by the mother. People all around are questioning the intentions of the police station about why they handcuffed and interrogated Mendez.

Wilson Mendez’s mother, Frances Mendez, stated that when she arrived at the police station in Bronx, her child was handcuffed to a rail for six hours and interrogated for ten hours after police finally allowed her to arrive. “It seemed as though the police station was handling an elementary lunch money dispute between two children, like a forty-year-old who had just committed murder,” claimed fellow parents.  Later on in the investigation, evidence was found to prove that the accusations against the police department of interrogating the boy for ten hours were false. Senior Michael Blumhardt says, ”I’m not saying that I am in favor of what the policemen did, but I knew that they didn’t interrogate the boy for ten hours. There’s no way.” Even though the interrogation was not ten hours, police do admit that it was five or six hours, which still seems excessive to most.

The family’s attorney, Jack Yankowitz, claimed in the lawsuit that not only did the police station commit false imprisonment, but also physical abuse, verbal, emotional and psychological abuse, and deprivation of Mendez’s constitutional rights. Junior Madison Schroeder says, “I think it is crazy that they would even think to put the little boy in handcuffs.” Junior Alison Shuman adds, “Picturing a little boy handcuffed to a rail is disturbing. I am glad the mom is suing them.” Interrogating anLunch Money ARd handcuffing Mendez were not the only incidents that took place at the police station. The policemen who “arrested” Mendez also charged him with robbery since the young boy had been accused of taking five dollars from the other student. During the court session, all robbery charges were dropped, and Mendez had to switch schools.

People across the nation are starting to question why the NYPD took such dramatic enforcements upon the second grader. NYPD is what a lot of other police stations look up to as guidance and for further education, so the people of America are beginning to wonder if their local police stations will take such a strong action upon their local children. Most probably do know better, but the consequences in this case are obviously extreme. A child can be held accountable without being handcuffed for taking $5. Then again, an abundance of people say, “Well, it is the Bronx, so one can never truly know if it was just an innocent robbery,” but the majority of the population will say that they think it is out of line for the NYPD to take such dramatic enforcements and that they deserve to be sued because it sends a frightening message to the public eye.

There is currently no update on whether or not Mendez’s mother has won her case of $250 million or not. The case itself is complicated, and plethora of accusations and different stories are still being tossed back and forth. What is known for sure is that seven-year-old Wilson Mendez was handcuffed to a rail by the NYPD for multiple hours due to a lunch money “robbery” or dispute. No one truly knows if all the facts will come to the surface, but the main argument to take away from this issue is that of the restrictions of law enforcement.

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