White teenagers in New Hampshire allegedly tied a rope around the neck of a biracial 8-year-old boy, and police in the town have been silent about the investigation, raising concerns that authorities are attempting to stifle conversation about racial issues in the community.
As Valley News reports, community activists and police in the town of Claremont (population: around 13,000) are at odds over the supposed lack of information about the August 28 incident. In fact, news of the alleged crime didn’t even become public until a week later, when the alleged victim’s mother posted about it on Facebook.
Specifics of the alleged hate crime remain elusive, but it appears, based on statements from the victim and his family, that the 8-year-old boy was in a backyard near a town park when several white teenagers began taunting the boy with racial slurs. The victim’s grandmother, Lorrie Slattery, says that the teens then began throwing sticks and rocks at his legs.
At some point, one of the teens grabbed a rope from a nearby tire swing and wrapped it around the child’s neck. He was then pushed off of a picnic table.
He was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with cuts and rope burns on his neck.
— Wade Kwon (@WadeOnTweets) September 9, 2017
Now, nearly two weeks after the incident, townsfolk — and the victim’s family — are frustrated by the police’s lack of communication about the incident.
Officially, police are mum about the incident because the victim and the alleged perpetrators are all juveniles, and are bound by confidentiality laws.
— Where My Story Begin (@sonphan_online) July 20, 2017
Mark Hughes, co-founder and executive director of Justice for All, a Vermont-based racial justice advocacy group, isn’t buying that excuse.
“Folks don’t just deserve to be informed about what’s going on; it is imperative that we disseminate this information. Because to not do this feeds into the problem.”
Smilarly, Kendra Colburn, of the Upper Valley chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, believes that Claremont police are trying to keep the public in the dark about the incident because they (the police) don’t want to be seen as having egg on their faces.
“I am upset and saddened and angered about how the police and city officials have chosen to play this. (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.”
City Manager Ryan McNutt, for his part, is calling for calm. Echoing the police’s insistence that the alleged perpetrators must remain protected by juvenile privacy laws, McNutt said that he expects the police to straighten everything out.
“It was an unfortunate incident between some juveniles. Folks should have confidence in the law enforcement investigation.”
[Featured Image by fergregory/Thinkstock]