Black Teens Arrested For Selling Water On DC’s National Mall

Photo by Tim Krepp

Three black teens were reportedly arrested this past Thursday for selling water bottles at Washington D.C.’s National Mall without a permit.

In a statement Sgt. Anna Rose of the U.S. Park Police said that the teens — two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old — were placed in handcuffs and detained for the “safety of the officers and of the individuals.”

READ: Outrage Mounting Over DC’s Missing Black & Latinx Teens 

Images of the arrest were captured by Tim Krepp, a tour guide, which circulated throughout social media.

“My kids sell water and everyone smiles at them. These kids do it and get arrested. It is racist,” Krepp wrote, later saying, “God forbid the actual free market be allowed on our National Mall.”

Democratic D.C. Council member Charles Allen wrote a letter to park Police Chief Robert MacLean asking why the agency failed to take a softer approach to the incident, acknowledging that the teens were in violation of the park’s vending laws but they did not deserve to be handcuffed.

READ: Ohio Police Caught Using Taser On 12-Year-Old Black Girl At Skating Rink

“While I understand the need to maintain consistency in permitted actions, I do not understand why the enforcement cannot take place with uniformed personnel and actions less severe than handcuffing individuals suspected of the sales. I can’t help but think how the reaction by these same officers might have varied if different children had set up a quaint hand-painted lemonade stand on the same spot,” Allen wrote. “While still the same violation of selling a beverage without proper permits and licenses, I doubt we would have seen little girls in pigtails handcuffed on the ground.”

However, Rose has spoken out against the backlash, saying that the incident was “blown out of proportion.”

“Vending on the National Mall is illegal without a permit,” Rose said, also stating that the teens were released without charges after their parents arrived at the park’s police station.


Elijah C. Watson

Elijah Watson serves as Okayplayer's News & Culture Editor. When he's not writing he's listening to Sade and crying or watching My Hero Academia with his partner.

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Elijah C. Watson

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