Three of the four black teens confronted last week by Minneapolis park police said Monday they were victims of mistaken suspicion when police detained them at Minnehaha Falls Regional Park following an unfounded 911 call.
"I was scared," said 14-year-old Suhaib Ahmed. "One was shaking. I was scared he was going to shoot me."
The three boys, ages 13 and 14, appeared at a press conference called by the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The families of the boys, who are Somali-American, are seeking counsel ahead of possible legal action in the incident, said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota CAIR chapter.
The incident drew widespread attention after a bystander recorded part of it with a phone and later posted the video to Facebook. The video has been viewed nearly 3 million times. Many commenters said park police overreacted.
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"When I was at the park, I was just trying to have a good day with my friends," said 14-year-old Aden Aden. "And this white kid came up to us saying racial slurs towards us, and when the cops came, they just pulled guns to our faces.
"And I felt like I was discriminated (against) and I felt like it was not supposed to happen, and I hope it never happens to anyone again."
Minneapolis park officials said the officers shown in the video were responding a 911 report of four males in the park with knives and sticks, and a possible gun in a backpack.
Police held the boys at the park, but later released three of them. A fourth boy was taken to the Juvenile Supervision Center as a runaway, and released from there.
Park authorities say they're investigating the matter, as well as the origin of the 911 call that brought officers to the park.
Hussein said the incident showed the need for more diversity in the ranks of Minneapolis park police.
Sirat Guffe, Aden's mother, said the incident should not have happened.
"They treated our children as felons and thugs," she said through a translator. "Our children are not terrorists, they are not gangsters, they are not criminals."
She said the experience continues to haunt her family. "We're still feeling depressed and sick from this incident."