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Tenn. Lawmakers Call For Federal Probe Over Arrest Of Elementary School Children

Two Tennessee lawmakers are calling for a federal investigation into the arrest of at least five elementary school children.

According to the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, the children, who ranged in age from 6 to 10, were handcuffed and taken to a juvenile detention center because they failed to stop a fight that happened away from school property.

The paper reports that over the weekend, the First Baptist Church hosted a community meeting about the incident. The paper adds:

"In addition to angry parents and supporters, Murfreesboro Police Chief Karl Durr and City Manager Rob Lyons were in the crowd.

" 'There are innocent kids that have been arrested that have been entered in a system they have no business in,' said Zacchaeus Crawford, who said three of his children were handcuffed at the school.

" 'If something needs to be corrected, it will be,' Lyons told the crowd. 'Out of this, we want to learn and make things better so they don't happen again,' Durr said. Durr said the city's police department will review the situation, though he did not go into specifics in front of the standing-room-only crowd at the First Baptist Church fellowship hall."

WKRN-TV reports the state lawmakers weighed in today, calling on the Justice Department and Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to look into the case.

"There is no rational safety justification for this act in our society," state Rep. John Ray Clemmons told the station.

State Rep. Mike Stewart said: "We need a full investigation into this unconscionable incident to safeguard the children's federal and state civil rights and to determine whether those involved should be prosecuted for criminal misconduct."

WKRN-TV reports that the kids were arrested at their classrooms in Hobgood Elementary School weeks after the fight, which the station says happened during a pickup game of basketball.

Authorities have not released any information about the incident because it involves minors. The Tennessean, however, reports some of the parents said the children were charged with " 'criminal responsibility for conduct of another,' which according to Tennessee criminal offense code includes incidents when a 'person fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent' an offense.' "

WKRN-TV reports that the police department says it is planning its own review of the incident.

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