Boy shot riding bike sparks mass outrage
A US prison officer has been suspended from his job over a Facebook post in which he allegedly claimed a five-year-old boy who was fatally shot "should've ducked".
Cannon Hinnant was gunned down in front of his sisters, aged 7 and 8, while playing outside their family home in North Carolina on August 9.
His tragic death has been seized on by detractors of the Black Lives Matter movement who claim Cannon's killing would have been treated differently if he was black.
Cannon's neighbour Darius Sessoms, who is black, has been arrested over the killing and Sessoms' parents have claimed their son had been suffering with drug and mental health issues.
In the wake of the ugly debate sparked by Cannon's death, a prison officer at the Cumberland County Juvenile Detention Centre in New Jersey, was suspended from his job on Wednesday.
The prison officer, Rome Smith, allegedly wrote on Facebook about Cannon's death blaming the boy's parents, which was screenshot and widely circulated.
"He should've ducked," Smith allegedly wrote. "Y'all always trying to sneak diss and discredit a black person being killed innocently by police. Blame cannon's parents for not watching him!!! F Y'ALL."
Smith's post sparked outrage and claims he was "obviously racist against caucasians", the New York Post reported.
In a statement to NJ.com, Smith's employer said he had been suspended and denounced the "shockingly insensitive and racist" comments.
"We will not tolerate County employees using social media to broadcast hateful messages," Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joseph Derella said.
"This is not who we are and we intend to pursue the strongest action available to us."
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'NO RACIAL ISSUE': CANNON'S DAD SPEAKS
Cannon had been riding his bike outside his father Austin Hinnant's home when Sessoms allegedly walked up to him and shot him in the head.
"The first thing that went through my mind was maybe he just fell off his bike," Mr Hinnant told local station WRAL.
"The closer I got to him, the more I realised it was something far more serious."
Sessoms was later arrested and has since been charged with first degree murder.
Mr Hinnant said he had lived next door to Sessoms and his parents for eight years and there was no "bad blood whatsoever".
Sessoms' parents told The Associated Press they believe their son had been on drugs and experiencing hallucinations when Cannon was shot.
Mr Hinnant told The Wilson Times he had been upset by social media reports that wrongly claimed race had been a factor in Cannon's death
"This is no racial issue," he said.
'STOP WEAPONISING THIS TRAGEDY'
Cannon's death began trending on social media earlier this month after several conservative commenters claimed his death had been overlooked because he was white and Sessoms was black.
Say his name. 5 year old Cannon Hinnant was executed in cold blood while riding his bike. The accused killer is Darius Sessoms. He allegedly walked up to the boy and shot him dead in front of his sisters. Reverse the races and this is the only thing anyone talks about for a month pic.twitter.com/5V72YhAOlI— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) August 11, 2020
It has also prompted memes that led to local police issuing a warning about fraudulent posts circulating online about Cannon's death.
However detractors pointed out that Cannon's death has been reported by most US American media outlets, slamming those who have "hijacked" his slaying for political purposes:
I've seen conservatives ask "where are the protests" for Cannon Hinnant:— Fifty Shades of Whey (@davenewworld_2) August 14, 2020
1. The killer wasn't a civil servant
2. The killer was caught
3. The killer will be jailed for life
4. This was a swift & appropriate response by the criminal justice system
RIP Cannon Hinnant 😔 pic.twitter.com/ezFisvvgNv
A GoFundMe page to raise money for Cannon's family has so far had more than $1.1 million donations, smashing its original target of US$5000.
Originally published as Boy shot riding bike sparks mass outrage
I am not afraid to talk about this. It is sad that this issue has been kinda hijacked for political reasoning. Cannon Hinnant was 5 years old. He was murdered. He hadn't even lived his life! There doesn't need to be a comparison.— Stereorage82 (@Stereorage82) August 15, 2020
RIP Cannon Hinnant 😞🙏💔
Pretty sad seeing Cannon Hinnant's murder politicized. When Right-Wingers get a chance to say "See Black men ARE bad!", they pounce.— 𝕬𝖑𝖊𝖝🎙 (@V_Broncos) August 15, 2020
What happened was disgusting & his murderer deserves to rot in hell; doesn't take away from minorities being targeted by police or systemic racism.
rest in peace cannon hinnant, whose grieving family has asked that his death not be politicized. a child is gone, justice has been served for the murderer. stop weaponizing this tragedy.— leah🇵🇦1312 (@princessrivilza) August 16, 2020
The way this Cannon Hinnant tragedy is being politicized is gross.— Josh (@wrongrev) August 17, 2020
A heartbreaking thing happened to an innocent little boy.
Prayers for this family.