Police in Omaha, Neb., are urging residents to watch a "heartbreaking" video that illustrates the "thug cycle" they claim is leading to the breakdown of their community, but the clip is instead creating a racial firestorm over use of the term "thug" and what it implies.
The Omaha Police Officers Association picked up the clip this week from an unidentified person's Facebook page and posed it to their website.
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"Despite the fact that it is sickening, heartbreaking footage, we have an obligation to share it to continue to educate the law-abiding public about the terrible cycle of violence and thuggery that some young innocent children find themselves helplessly trapped in," a blogger at OmahaPOA.com wrote.
The video, which contains extremely strong and graphic language
, shows a young African-American toddler in a diaper. In the background we hear a man and a woman (reportedly the baby's uncle and mother) having a discussion with the toddler that ranges from sex and gang violence to racial slurs and extreme profanity — much of which they urge the little one to repeat.
"Now while we didn't see anything in this video that is blatantly 'illegal,' we sure did see a lot that is flat out immoral and completely unhealthy for this little child from a healthy upbringing standpoint," the POA post reads. "Folks… soak this in. You are literally watching 'the cycle' of violence continue right in front of your eyes. A powerful cycle that must be broken if we ever hope to get a handle on violence in Omaha."
The video immediately sparked debate over the word "thug," which some saw as an indication of race.
"We live in a world where little black boys are seen as violent," CNN political commentator Marc Lamont Hill argued
. "How come the examples are always black?"
But the Omaha POA insists it's not about race.
"We use ['thug'] as a general term on our Facebook page," union president Sgt. John Wells told Gawker
, saying it could be substituted by a variety of other terms like "abnormal, antisocial, criminal."
"The focus here isn't on any particular ethnic group. The focus here is on the troubling behavior towards this child," Wells also told CNN. "This behavior is going to potentially lead this child down a path that is completely unhealthy."
The creator of the video, presumably the male voice in the background, left a profanity laced comment on the Omaha POA Facebook page
"Man f— all of yall because the matter of the fact is you act like we was giving that little boy weed or we have a gun in his hand or something b— no! but I put your ass in an orphanage don't ever talk on my f—ing cousin move around with that s— I don't give a f— about you, the police or these motherf—ers leaving comments on this motherf—er so therefore all ya'll can suck my d— ni—!"
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