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Therapist speaks on emotional impact for teens detained by Maplewood police

The incident sparked an outcry from the kids' families and community, and a larger conversation about the impact of trauma on children in communities of color.

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — Camera video taken Monday night shows four children, between the ages of 10 and 16, sitting in the back of a Maplewood police car in handcuffs, following reports of shots fired.

The kids were detained for 40 minutes, but eventually released. Now, the incident sparking not only outcry from the kids families and community, but a larger conversation about the impact of trauma on children in communities of color.

"The youngest child was 10 years old and kids shouldn't have to go through that trauma and unfortunately these are children who have a history of trauma from police violence," said Jeanelle Austin.

"I was in tears to see the mothers," said Anissa Keyes, a local therapist. "I have four boys, myself, 16, 15, 14, and I have a little guy too," said

Anissa Keyes is a mother, a therapist and president of Arubah Emotional Health Services based in north Minneapolis. She's seen firsthand how trauma affects kids living in marginalized communities.

"What we call this is compound, complex trauma. Being discriminated against, not only are they not feeling safe in their community, but they are physically under threat, put into a back of a car by people who do not look like them," said Keyes. "Those who are not connected to them, who are not necessarily on their side."

But trauma is not something new to the teens detained Monday night.
Last year, 14-year-old Marcoz Paramo and another teen were killed in Maplewood after reports of a stolen car led to a police pursuit.

Paramo's brother was one of the four teens placed in handcuffs.

For these parents, it's an uphill battle - mixed with tough conversations about how to handle interactions with police.

"You gotta teach your kids to not stop at a red light, to not speak to strangers and now, you have to teach our kids about the police. It's sad, it's 2022," said Cokeila Taylor. 

"These kids are going to have to live with this for the rest of their life, forever," said Tanya Gile.

It's a conversation Keyes has often with her sons.

"We have them regularly," said Keyes. "We have constant conversations about where do we go to feel safe, if we live in this area, there are still the same things happening, who do I turn to, do I call the police if something is happening in my neighborhood."

She says many children who are retraumatized can suffer long term effects. "Naturally their survival techniques might be to fight back, push back or to continue with feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and a challenge to the community rather than a help," said Keyes.

In the end, Keyes says it's up to the community, local law enforcement and city leaders to help bridge the gap, so no child has to feel unprotected in their community.

"It would be the people in power that would need to do something different, and right now that's police officers doing something different to be able to create connection," said Keyes.