This is an odd story from the Washington Times. The paper reported on August 11th, 1908 the arrest of a young five-year-old. Yes, a little kid was arrested and it’s a bizarre story.
Not only was he taken in by the police, but they had to do so in front of the young boys dog. Poor Nellie.
Seated on his front porch, his arm around his pet dog, Nellie, who tried to guard him, little five-year-old Gus Oputz, who was arrested last night by Officer Clay, the giant policeman of the Fourth precinct, tried to decide this morning why he had been arrested. He said he had done nothing. The dog said nothing, but gazed with a savage intensity on each visitor, and made each visitor feel embarrassed by taking an unwholesome interest in his trousers.
According to the police, Gus was arrested for destroying private property. The extent of the depredation consisted of taking six lathes from a disused and disreputable shanty, and nailing them together tha he might get a kite that was caught in a tree.
The residents of the neighborhood in which Gus lives are intensely wrought up over his arrest, and are unanimous in their declaration that it was unjustified. Gus is not worried over the matter. In a calmly, judicial manner he insists that the officer is a “mean man,” and expresses the conservative opinion that he will come to no good end.
This afternoon the matter will be threshed out before Judge DeLacy at Juvenile Court.
Gus was arrested by policeman last evening as he was peacefully poking at his kite, which was lodged in the topmost branches of a tree. A large crowd, attracted by the unusual picture of a six-foot-and-a-half policeman arresting a five-year-old child, hooted at the unresponsive Clay.
At the station house the boy’s father agreed to be responsible for the lad’s appearance in court today.
This is such a weird story. Evidently, his criminal record did not impact his future that much since he successfully completed his World War I Draft Registration Card on September 12th, 1918. Of course, he would have been only 15 at the time, but I suspect he wanted to fulfill his patriotic duty to serve in the military and lied about his age.
- Herbert Copeland: The Last Person Hanged in D.C. (ghostsofdc.org)
- Congress Heights: The Healthiest and Most Delightful Suburb of Washington (ghostsofdc.org)
- For Young Ladies, For Growing Girls, and For Misses (1919) (ghostsofdc.org)
- Owning Your Own Apartment is Preferred to Owning Your House (ghostsofdc.org)