Three years after police handcuffed a young, Black youth — the nation turned its attention to Honestie Hodges. That same little girl passed away from COVID-19 complications almost two weeks ago.
The 14-year-old died after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
“It is with an extremely heavy heart that I have to tell all of you that my beautiful, sassy, smart loving Granddaughter has gone home to be with Jesus,” Alisa Niemeyer, Hodges’ grandmother, wrote in an update to a GoFundMe Campaign, which was originally set up to help the family cover the cost of Honestie’s hospital bills.
Honestie tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 9 according to Niemeyer, and was then rushed to Helen Devos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on that same night.
And on Nov. 13, the teen was placed on a ventilator. Nine days later, she passed away.
Leaders in the Black community have begged anyone who has expressed outrage over the girl’s mistreatment by police in 2017 to honor her memory now respecting the CDC’s guidelines regarding the coronavirus pandemic.
“All of the folks who showed up and expressed interest when Honestie was held at gunpoint, this is an opportunity to really honor her life fully,” Greater Grand Rapids NAACP branch President Cle Jackson stated.
“Honor her life by doing what is necessary, what is needed, and that is limit your movement, limit your movement. We have to.”
Honestie’s captured the nation’s attention in December of 2017, when she was handcuffed by police at just 11 years old.
Bodycam footage from the incident showed police approach Honestie, her mother, and a third family member with their guns drawn as the trio stepped out of the back door of Honestie’s home, according to The New York Time. And despite being told by her mother that she was only 11, police ordered Honestie to walk backward towards them with her hands up before grabbing her and handcuffing her.
In bodycam footage from the incident — Honestie can be heard crying and pleading with police while an officer tells her, “You’re fine. You’re not going to jail or anything.” Police revealed to the news outlet Honestie was handcuffed for exactly two minutes prior to being detained for an additional 10 minutes in a police car.
At the time, Michigan Live reported police alleged they were looking for Honestie’s 42-year-old aunt who was supposed to have some connection to a stabbing that took place earlier in the day. Honestie’s mother reported officers had traumatized her daughter, who had difficulty sleeping following the incident and required counseling.
And while none of the officers involved in the incident ever received disciplinary action, an internal investigation found they did not violate department policy in handcuffing a child.
The incident recieved national attention as well as debate about how police treat children of color and led the Grand Rapids Police Department to establish the “Honestie Policy,” which is a series of rules regarding how they interact with children at potential crime scenes.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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