Archive: 22 August 2023

US Practice of Handcuffing Children Violates International Human Rights Law

US Practice of Handcuffing Children Violates International Human Rights Law

US Practice of Handcuffing Children Violates International Human Rights Law

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children,” said the late President Nelson Mandela at the launch of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund in Pretoria, South Africa.

Mandela’s quote is timely as it is true; a nation that allows child suffering is gospel of its real stance on human rights. One need only ask 12-year-old Tashawn Bernard, whose life changed after police officers in Lansing, Michigan placed him handcuffs.

Tashawn was carrying garbage to a dumpster from his apartment when Lansing police officers stopped him, alleging his neon green shorts matched an individual who the department connected to a string of car thefts in the area.

While Tashawn did have on neon green shorts, the Bernards disagree that Tashawn’s grey shirt resembled the attire of the alleged suspect.

One cannot deny that Tashawn’s clothing had some similarities to the alleged suspect. However, one must distinguish carefully between harmless mistakes and harmful practices.

The practice of handcuffing children is harmful as is the practice of police officers drawing their guns on children. “The way they execute their duty is wrong,” Michael Bernard told WLNS 6 News, “plain wrong,” he continued.[1] Mr. Bernard disclosed to media outlets that the handcuffing incident traumatized Tashawn.

Evidence supports the plight of Mr. Bernard, as handcuffing has been shown to invoke feelings of fear, inferiority and anxiety in a child.[2]

Statistics Show Michigan Black Youth Are Disproportionately Arrested

The maltreatment Black youth are subjected to in Michigan is only a fraction of the community’s concerns. For instance, research shows Black youth are disproportionately funneled into criminal justice system. They also comprise of 75% of children arrested and make up most—if not all—the children referred to juvenile court.[3]

It is worth stating at this point that Tashawn’s experience is not an isolated incident in the US. Reports surfaced online that Volusia County Sheriffs placed an 11-year-old Florida girl in handcuffs after she made a false kidnapping report to 911. While the false report the young girl made to the sheriff’s dispatcher was a cause for alarm, sheriffs did not have to use restraints to teach the young girl “a lesson.”

In addition to the incidents above, reports indicate policing in Sacramento have become racialized. For instance, Sacramento police stereotyped a group of Black children as “ghetto” and used discriminatory words to suggest they have a general learning disability. After their discriminatory comments, Sacramento police handcuffed the 14-year-old boy.[4] An investigation found Sacramento police officers failed to document that police had the 14-year-old boy handcuffed for 27-minutes. Like many police departments, Sacramento does not have a policy that prohibits the handcuffing of minors.

United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of Their Liberty

Under the Havana Rules, instruments of restraint and force can only be used in exceptional cases.  Further, all other control methods must be exhausted and shown to fail before law enforcement can place a child in handcuffs. When police departments decide to place a child in restraints, their actions must be explicitly authorized and specified by law and regulation. As I have stated before, handcuffing a child must meet the rational connection test and the minimal impairment test.[5]

After reviewing footage of the Bernard incident, I am not convinced that the Lansing police officers’ actions met either test. First, Lansing officers did not exhaust other control methods. Even if Lansing police officers had done so, the footage unequivocally demonstrates that Tashawn was neither combative nor belligerent.

The United Nations makes clear that law enforcement officers cannot handcuff a child who poses no imminent threat of injury to themselves or others.[6]

If not combative nor belligerent, then Lansing police’s actions were not appropriate to achieve a proper purpose: inquiry into whether Tashawn was the suspect of the thefts.

The incidents above further raise the question as to whether American law enforcement’s handcuffing of children constitutes an unlawful attack on their reputation. After reviewing the Sacramento and Florida incidents, it is quite likely that the restraints used in those incidents rose to the level of humiliating and degrading treatment.[7] Such actions violate Article 16 (1) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

State Parties, such as the US, must take all appropriate legislative and administrative measures to protect children from all forms of maltreatment.[8] In light of the ongoing violation on children rights, I renew my call for the US to ratify the CRC.

Sources Consulted

[1] WLNS 6 News. (2023). Father of boy in viral video reacts to son being detained. WLNS 6 News, retrieved August 11, 2023,

[2] Canada, Q. (2023). The Arbitrary Practice of Handcuffing US Children: Why Ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child is Crucial for Children Rights. Journey to the Center. Retrieved August 14, 2023.

[3] Fox 47 News (2023). Lansing community demands change after wrongful detainment of 12-year-old. Fox 47 News, retrieved from

[4] Clift, T. (2023). Sacramento police called kids ‘ghetto’ before handcuffing 14-year-old Black boy, The Sacramento Bee, retrieved July 25, 2023, available at

[5] Supra, note 2.

[6] Id.

[7] General Assembly (1990). Limitation of physical restrain and the use of force in United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty, at para. 64. While paragraph 64 refers to incarcerated children, one should always remember that restraints should never be used to humiliate or degrade a child, as witnessed in the Florida and Sacramento incidents.

[8] Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 19 (1)

Public Statement: Violence Against Our Elected Officials is a Threat on Democracy

Public Statement: Violence Against Our Elected Officials is a Threat on Democracy

Public Statement: Violence Against Our Elected Officials is a Threat on Democracy

Dear Community,

Journey to the Center is deeply disturbed by the recent threats of violence targeting Judge Tanya Chutkan, Representative Shelia Jackson and US President, Joe Biden. These reprehensible incidents strike at the heart of our democracy, endangering the very essence of public service and intimidating those who represent and lead our nation.

Judge Tanya Chutkan and representative Sheila Jackson
Courtesy of The Hill

It is deeply troubling to read such acts of unprovoked hostility aimed at impeding Chutkan, Jackson and President Biden’s ability to judge, legislate and to safely serve within the Executive Office.

When citizens threaten violence against our public officials, they erode foundational principles that underpin the human right to life. Fear and intimidation obstruct the open exchange of ideas, hinder the respectful dialogue needed to address critical issues, and ultimately weaken our ability to focus on collectively building a better future for all.

Today, Journey to the Center wholeheartedly recognizes the immense challenges our public officials face while striving to fulfill their duties and responsibilities. As with the incidents above, the US Government invoked a legitimate ground for restricting freedom of expression, demonstrated the precise nature of the threat, and the necessity and proportionality of the specific action taken. See Shin v. Republic of Korea (CCPR/C/80/D/926/2000), at para. 35. More specifically, the US Government was able to established a direct and immediate connection between the expression and the threats.

“When a State party invokes a legitimate ground for restriction of freedom of expression, it must demonstrate in specific and individualized fashion the precise nature of the threat, and the necessity and proportionality of the specific action taken, in particular by establishing a direct and immediate connection between the expression and the threat.”

Human Rights Committee, General Comment 34 (2011)

Moreover, Journey to the Center calls upon all individuals, irrespective of their political affiliations, to denounce the promotion of violence and intimidation. Let us create an environment that fosters empathy, respect, and understanding, where public servants can perform their vital roles.

In times like these, it is imperative that we reaffirm our unwavering commitment to the principles of democracy, even if we believe she has disappeared. We must safeguard the fundamental right to express differing opinions and engage in robust discourse, as this is the only way the seeds of democratic processes in our nation can blossom.

Our country thrives when citizens hold our elected officials responsible via the media, human rights apparatuses, blogs and the ballot box. It is requested that you exercise your voices there.

Journey to the Center

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry


My brother was subjected to predatory behavior by the mechanics known as Break Plus in Colorado, Springs Colorado. My brother strongly feels the predatory behavior of this mechanic had a racial element and I believe him. #predatory #mechanic #racism #unitedstates #blacktiktoks #blacktiktokcommunity #blacklivesmatter

♬ original sound – Quianna Canada
Quianna Canada talks about anti-black racism in US consumer services.

Drivers who have been on the road for a considerable period of time can easily identify the evident signal of a vehicle in need of an alignment: the steering wheel is off center when one drives straight; the vehicle pulls to the right or left side, and sometimes the steering wheel vibrates.

For many consumers in the US, taking a motor vehicle to a repair shop for an alignment is relatively cheap and can take all of twenty minutes. Unfortunately, countless consumers across the US consistently find themselves facing an enduring struggle for fair treatment when it comes to car servicing and repairs.

Just ask Mr. Xavier Nunn, who sought services from the Brakes Plus in Colorado Springs earlier this month, only to find that mechanics labored on coercing him into paying for additional services he never anticipated. “If you are in Colorado Springs—do not, I repeat do not—go to Brakes Plus on Eighth Street for an alignment,” warned Mr. Nunn, giving a narrative in frustration and disappointment to viewers on the social media platform TikTok.

Mr. Nunn visited the Brakes Plus on 740 Abbot Lane and sought an alignment and expected to pay no more than the advertised $89.00. He also assumed that Brakes Plus would provide him with accurate information regarding its services and that it would deal fairly with him at all stages of their business relationship.

Yet, the mechanics informed Mr. Nunn that an alignment could not be performed because the lower control arm bushing on his motor vehicle needed to be repaired. “We pride ourselves on quality repairs,” alleges Chad Dreiling, the manager at the Brakes Plus in Colorado Springs.

Dreiling alleges if they performed an alignment on Mr. Nunn’s vehicle without addressing the lower control arm problems first, they “would have been stealing money from him.”

While Mr. Nunn admits that his motor vehicle had axil problems in the past, his TikTok public service announcement discloses that he recently made repairs to the axil boot and other parts of the vehicle. He further disputes the claim that his motor vehicle had lower control arms problems, asserting that stealing his money is exactly what the mechanics at Brakes Plus attempted to do. “If you go off in there and try and get that $89.00 alignment and you’re Black, you gone come out with another problem in your vehicle—trust me,” Mr. Nunn warned to the community.

Research shows that costly automotive repairs are driving US consumers into a financial ditch. US automotive shops have been investigated for unauthorized and unnecessary repairs, theft of parts and vandalism to vehicles while in the shop’s care. These deceptive practices have spawned an Insider Edition hidden camera investigation into the automotive repair industry.

According to Insider Edition, investigators placed hidden cameras under the hood of the car and an Insider Edition sticker on the oil filter to see if mechanics would changed the filter. Despite a service station in Long Island charging investigators a $130.00 for an oil change and new filter, the mechanic never changed the filter.

While the owner of the shop did refund the investigators, claiming failure to perform the services promised was an honest mistake, footage illustrates the sticker had not been removed from the filter cap. Indeed, the presence of the sticker on cap illustrated that mechanics never replaced the filter.

From Hero to Villian: The Dark Side of Colorado Springs’ Automotive Repair Industry

Further, more than a dozen people in Colorado Springs reported they had lost money to an auto repair shop who didn’t perform the services on their vehicles as promised. Those grievances bring us to Brakes Plus, who is no stranger to the frequent remonstrations of consumers in the state of Colorado.

A Better Business Bureau archive on Brakes Plus reveal a slew of consumer concerns related to the auto repair shop, from deceptive practices to problems with products and services.

It is worth mentioning here that two June 2023 complaints filed with the BBB bears some similarity to Mr. Nunn’s concern. Based on the details of these complaints, the customers went into Brakes Plus for an alignment and left the shop with a host a problems the consumers assert wasn’t there before.

The Federal Trade Commission

When consumers find themselves in this predicament, some turn to the Federal Trade Commission for relief. The Federal Trade Commission’s mission is to enforce civil antitrust law and to promote consumer protection. Howbeit, the US Supreme Court has recently curtailed the powers of the Commission.

For example, in AMG Capital Management, LLC v. Federal Trade Commission, the federal court granted the Commission’s request for relief, finding AMG Capital Management violated § 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act’s prohibition against unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the area of commerce. AMG Capital Management appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit who affirmed the lower court’s decision.

After the Ninth Circuit rendered its decision, AMG Capital Management appealed to the US Supreme Court, who ruled that § 13(b) of the Federal Trade Commission Act does not authorize the Commission to seek, nor allow a court to award equitable monetary relief such as restitution or disgorgement.[1] In other words, § 13(b) does not explicitly authorize the Commission to obtain court-ordered monetary relief on the behalf of consumers.[2]

The decision of the US Supreme Court propagated the 2021 Consumer Protection Recovery Act (H.R. 2668), to which authorizes the Federal Trade Commission to seek monetary relief in federal court from businesses that engage in unlawful commercial practices such as false advertising, consumer fraud, and anti-competitive conduct.[3]

That same year, the Office of Management and Budget for the Executive Office of the President applauded the bill, stating it would “require bad actors to return money earned through illegal activity” and allow the Federal Trade Commission “to seek both injunctive and monetary relief for consumers in Federal courts.”[4] Although the bill gained support in the House, the US Senate has yet to take legislative action on the bill to seal it into law.

The United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection

The purgatory state of H.R.2668 may violate international law. For example, the United Nations guidelines for consumer protection assists countries in maintaining adequate protection for their population as consumers.[5] It also assists countries, like the US, in curbing abusive business practices by all enterprises at the national and international levels which adversely affect consumers.[6]

Under the United Nations’ fair and equitable treatment principle, businesses like Brakes Plus, should deal fairly and honestly with consumers at all stages of their relationship. This principle is especially important for disadvantaged consumers[7] like Mr. Nunn.

More importantly, the United Nations’ commercial behavior principle states businesses, such as Brakes Plus, should not subject consumers to illegal, unethical, discriminatory or deceptive practices, such as improper behavior that may pose unnecessary risks or harm consumers[8]—as witnessed in Mr. Nunn’s TikTok video.

Brakes Plus and its mechanics have a responsibility to uphold consumer protection as an objective and should have due regard for the interests of all consumers, including Mr. Nunn.


[1] AMG Capital Management, LLC. V. Federal Trade Commission. (n.d.). Oyez. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[2] Id.

[3] H.R.2668 – Consumer Protection and Recovery Act (2021). Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[4] Office of Management and Budget. (2021). Statement of Administration Policy: H.R. 2668 – Consumer Protection and Recovery Act. Executive Office of the President. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[5] United Nations. (2016). United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. UNCTAD. Retrieved August 13, 2023, from

[6] Id.

[7] Id., p. 9, para. 11 (a).

[8] Id., p. 9, para. 11 (b).

Skip to content