Larceny for taking a FREE school milk!!!
Ryan Turk a middle schooler at Graham Park Middle School was charged last year with larceny for taking a school milk during lunch time. Ryan is on the free lunch program and entitled to the milk.
This is a Call to Action and Ryan needs your help!
Prince William County Superintendent of Schools
Prince William County Police Chief Barnard
Prince William County Board of County Supervisors:
We are deeply concerned about how things were handled by one of your officers at Graham Park Middle School when he believed Ryan Turk had stolen a milk. There seems to have been a complete lack of good judgement on the part of the officer. This child is in middle school, it would have been reasonable to simply check in with him privately. Accusing him and embarrassing him in front of everyone was totally unacceptable and physical contact should always be a very, very last resort. I'm quite certain aside from embarrassment, the child was likely scared as well.
Having worked with youth and adolescents for decades we find it very clear that officer Riley Harris lacks the training necessary to respond appropriately when working with children. Ryan missed 30 days of school under suspension last year and Ms. Turk was faced with two options; have her son plead guilty to a crime he did not commit and participate in a diversion program, or fight this.
She has always maintained the position that she would not have her child admit guilt to something he did not do, and now they are facing trial in late Novembe, where Ryan will have to respond to charges of larceny.
This is such an abhorrent misuse of our justice system and the trauma associated with this will undoubtedly have lifelong effects on Ryan.
It is shameful and absurd that Graham Park Middle School and the Prince William County Police department would allow this to go so far. Furthermore, this young man has been treated like a criminal because of the color of his skin, never would we see a case like this involving a white child get this far. Our educational system and criminal justice system operate in a way that demeans and devalues people of color and this case is a clear example of how early it begins. This could have and should have been stopped. Clearly officer Harris had poor judgement, but the school, school district and Chief of Police had multiple opportunities to stop this, yet here we are, months later, and a child is going to trial over a carton of milk.
No longer will Ryan be able to look at the police as people who will protect him, no longer will be see school as a place where he is safe and nurtured.
We are calling for the following:
• Immediate dismissal of charges against Ryan
• Removal of Officer Harris from School patrols
• Implementation of a training program designed to give school based officers the proper tools to work with children in an age appropriate manner
• Counseling for Ryan should he need it
We certainly hope to see that you take this matter seriously, should you have any questions for us or need any assistance of any kind, please don't hesitate to contact us.
Together We Stand
The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. ~Albert Einstein