By Associated Press - Monday, June 1, 2020

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island on Monday sued the city of Pawtucket and two city school officials over the arrest last year of a 13-year-old girl after a scuffle with another student.

The girl’s constitutional and statutory rights, including her right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, were violated when she was arrested an hour after the scuffle last June by a school resource officer with the consent of the Goff Middle School principal, the ACLU said in a statement.

The girl, an honors student with no prior disciplinary issues, was handcuffed, taken to the police station, and kept in a cell for close to an hour before being released to her mother, the ACLU said. A disorderly conduct charge was eventually dropped.

“Children in America should not have to grow up with fear of the police. Why does my child’s punishment for a small offense have to be such a gigantic injustice?” the girl’s mother, Tiqua Johnson, said in a statement.

The federal suit seeks punitive damages.

“We remain highly confident that all protocols were properly followed, and that the ACLU’s potential lawsuit is without merit,” according to a statement attributed to Superintendent Cheryl McWilliams.

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