6-Year-Old Boy Forced To Attend Court Alone & Defend Himself After Picking Tulip From Garden

A North Carolina family (and quite frankly anyone who would come across this story with a heart) was left in major disbelief after their 6-year-old son was taken to court.  The young boy, whose name is being withheld due to him being a minor, was accused of simply picking a tulip from a flower garden. 

The story is being spotlighted as folks are advocating for the age of juvenile proceedings to be raised in.  A report written by Virginia Bridges for the Herald-Sun paints the scene of the 6-year-old Black boy seating in court in front of a North Carolina judge, feet dangling above the floor.  Next to him was his defense attorney, Julie Boyer, who provided him with a coloring book and crayons to hopefully distract him from what could potentially bring life-altering mental issues from the proceedings. 

The charge?  Injury to real property.  Just for simply picking the previously mentioned tulip from a yard at a bus stop.  The child’s mother was unable to attend the intake meeting, which meant that per regional law, he had to go alone.  State law requires that the 6-year-old would have to assist in defending himself.   

Lyana Hunter of the New Hanover County public defender’s office spoke with WECT News North Carolina on the case.  “A 6 years old … we’re talking about someone that’s in kindergarten, first grade. They don’t understand the process, they don’t understand what’s going on, they probably don’t even know their address,” said Hunter.  “The earlier that you introduce a child to the criminal justice system, the higher the chances are that they will remain in the criminal justice system.” 

Perhaps that was the hope of those involved with his arrest. “He gets served with papers. His mom gets served with papers,” Boyer was quoted as saying. “It was just appalling.” However, once the judge became aware that the child’s mother was unable to attend, he dismissed the case. 

“Should a child that believes in Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy be making life-altering decisions?” said the Judge before sharing research to the courtroom that even children between the ages 10-14 cannot.   

The case also helped to continue the debate on the age of juvenile proceedings needing to be raised.  According to Bridges’s report, nearly 7,300 complaints were filed against children between the ages of 6 and 11. And of those complaints, 47 percent were against Black children, despite the fact that just 22 percent of the state’s population is Black, while 70 percent is white. 

Following the news of the young boy’s unfortunate situation, a group on social media named “Black Men With Gardens” is in search of the victim’s family as they would love to provide him with a garden of his own.  They, along with the “Black Girls With Gardens” ensure that they will provide him with “the best tulip patch in the neighborhood.” 

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