United states : controversy after the death of a black teenager in a centre for delinquents

États-Unis : polémique après la mort d’un adolescent noir dans un centre pour délinquants

WASHINGTON | The dissemination of a video showing a black teenager lost consciousness after being overcome by staff members of the centre for offenders, has aroused the excitement Wednesday in the United States.

Cornelius Fredericks, 16, died on the 1st of may, two days after he was tackled to the ground by a number of educators of the Academy Lakeside in Kalamazoo, Michigan, to have launched a sandwich on another young person in the centre’s cafeteria.

The scene was recorded by the surveillance cameras in the centre. We see the young man throw a sandwich, and then be brought to the ground by several men who use their weight to control it. After ten minutes, the teen appears to be unconscious, and the staff tried cpr before calling emergency services.

His death recalls that of George Floyd, an African-American killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis on may 25, whose agony was filmed and broadcast on the social networks.

His death sparked a wave of anger against police violence and racism.

This “horrible” video more than ten minutes reveals a “culture of fear and abuse” in this center for offenders, where the practice “regular” asphyxia “is a form of punishment”, was assured on Tuesday the lawyer of the victim’s family, Geoffrey Fieger, in making public the images.

The young man “was executed on April 29, for the crime of having launched a sandwich”, he denounced. The seven staff members who have locked-in “have been deprived of oxygen and his brain has suffered irreversible damage”.

Two educators and a nurse were charged with manslaughter and assault on a minor.

The lawyer has started in June in a civil action against the staff members involved and the private company that manages the centre, under contract with the State of Michigan.

“Even if Cornelius Fredericks shouted, “I can’t breathe”, the accused continued to control it in an inappropriate way, killing him,” said the lawyer in the complaint.

“The excessive use of coercion and the lack of interest in the life of Cornelius remind us in a comparison sinister the death of George Floyd”, he says.

Geoffrey Fieger said Tuesday that the company manager had proposed a settlement of less than a million dollars in compensation to the family of the teenager.

In June, the governor of Michigan had denounced the killing “senseless” and “intolerable” by Cornelius Fredericks and announced an end to the contracts of the private company with its State.

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