Last month, an 8-year-old biracial boy in New Hampshire was almost lynched by older white kids who reportedly teased him for being part black. Luckily the boy is alive, and police are not investigating a murder. But his family members have reported that there seems to be hesitation by the local police to take into consideration the race-based elements of the violence, even perhaps protecting the perpetrators.
The incident, which has been reported by local media and related on relatives' Facebook pages, occurred on Aug. 28 when the boy, who has not been identified, was playing with other kids in a neighborhood yard. According to the victim's grandmother, the other kids started to throw sticks and and rocks and started to use racial slurs. Then they found a rope and hung him.
The boy's grandmother, Lorrie Slattery, explained as much to local newspaper The Valley News:
The [teenagers] said, "Look at this," supposedly putting the rope around their necks. One boy said to [her grandson], "Let's do this," and then pushed him off the picnic table and hung him.
The boy did not suffer any permanent damage or internal injuries, and his grandmother claimed he must have had "a guardian angel," considering that the worst of the injuries were cuts and rope burns around his neck. He was airlifted from the town of Claremont, where the incident happened, to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.
The incident first started to gain notoriety through the Facebook posts written by the boy's mother and uncle. They uploaded photos of the boy's injuries and explained the situation. The mom's comments were not posted publicly, but screenshots have circulated.
So my son is being flown to Dartmouth after a 14 year old kid decided to hang him from a tree. I don't care if this was a so called accident or not. My son almost died because of some little sh** teenage kids.
The uncle's post also points to the issue being explained away by the perpetrators as an accident.
When my sister calls me when something is wrong I feel it in my bones before ever picking up the phone. Tonight I was spot on. My nephew was hung from a tree by a 14yr old who claims "it was an accident." I don't care what kind of excuse this teenager has but you DO NOT play with somebody's life.
The local police are not releasing any official information on the case beyond confirming that they are investigating an incident. Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase pointed out that all those involved are minors, which makes it illegal for him to comment on the issue according to New Hampshire law.
But he went a bit further, speaking up for the alleged perpetrators:
We don't want things to follow kids throughout their life. ... [Juveniles] need to be protected.
There's no way of knowing at what stage the investigation is in or whether there were charges filed. Chase said there would be no more information released regarding the incident or the investigation.
However, Kendra Colburn from the Upper Valley chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, told The Root she's upset with how the police and city officials in Claremont have handled the incident.
[They] all seem like they do not want media attention on this story, and I am concerned about that. I am really concerned that we can't change what we don't know about or refuse to look at.
Some of the family members initially wrote on Facebook that it was unclear what motivated the attack, but the mother, identified on Facebook as Cassandra Merlin, wrote a public update online:
My only intentions of making [my son's] story public is show this country that racism does in fact still exist. That it is still so alive that our children are living in a world of hate. Being exposed to all types of hatred. It truly saddens me that even in a city so small, racism exists. My son used to love being able to go to the park with his older sister and shoot some hoops! Now, he's not even allowed to go outside without me.
[It's] sad that in a city we considered to be safe, we aren't safe at all. I will tell you this, my son will get the justice he deserves.