According to KSMP-TV, Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau said the department will investigate claims that Taye Montgomerywas hit with the chemical irritants as he stood among protesters with his mother, Susan.
“This morning I spoke with the mother of a 10-year-old boy who was affected by chemical irritants downtown last night,” Chief Harteau said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. “I wanted to know how her son was doing. We are both mothers and we had a good conversation.”
Chief Harteau and Mayor Hodges are asking for drivers, bystanders and participants in Wednesday night’s demonstration to come forward and provide their statement and any evidence that could help with the investigation.“We need to see any and all video, from all angles in this case,” Chief Harteau said.
Shortly after the incident, witnesses took to Twitter to document the boy’s painful ordeal.
Montgomery, of St. Paul, said the officer had been near her group of fewer than 10 protesters for some time. At one point, the officer drove up abruptly to Montgomery and the others with his siren on and lights flashing on S. 7th Street. “People started running. It seemed like he was mad at that point,” she said.
Other protesters confronted the officer, screaming that he had sprayed a child, Montgomery continued. The officer responded by spraying them as well, she said. Taye, who his mother said is autistic, fell to the ground and was carried into a nearby hotel. Milk was poured into his eyes to deaden the chemical irritant, his mother said.
Taye later told reporters that the spray hurt, adding that it made him really nervous “because I couldn’t see where I was going. I couldn’t find my mom.”
Addressing critics Thursday who questioned why she would bring her son to a protest, Montgomery said she wanted to give the young boy a “sense of social justice.” And from the looks of video of Taye, posted by protesters via Twitter, the small boy is doing just that — leading chants at a march just a day after the incident to instill change in his community.
According to a police report, the chemical aerosol was used to “drive back the hostile crowd” after protesters reportedly “engaged motorists,” jumped on cars, and tried “to pull open doors.” Montgomery, however, told the Star Tribune that the officer in question “just jumped out of his car and started spraying everybody.”