Activists and community members in Claremont are calling on police to provide more information after allegations that a young boy was injured late last month in a racially motivated incident.
A group of young white teenagers attacked the boy in the backyard of a home near Barnes Park. They were taunting him with racial slurs and were throwing sticks and rocks at his legs, and later intentionally pushed him off a picnic table with a rope around his neck.
Information about the accident was published by police only 10 days later only because of a widely shared Facebook post by the boy’s mother.
“I am upset and saddened and angered about how the police and city officials have chosen to play this,” said Kendra Colburn, of Strafford, a member of the Upper Valley chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice. “(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.”
Still, aside from confirming an ongoing investigation, police have refused to release any details about the case, citing the confidentiality that protects juvenile proceedings.
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase said that “Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life.”
City Manager Ryan McNutt also declined to comment. He asked the public to let the investigation play out. “It was an unfortunate incident between some juveniles,” McNutt said. “Folks should have confidence in the law enforcement investigation.”
Activists claim that the police can actually provide the case information without disclosing the participants’ ID’s or violating confidentiality law.
“It should go on the record that in 2017 this happened,” one of the activists said. “It is very important, because if we pretend it didn’t happen, it will keep happening.”
According to the victim’s grandmother, her grandson was airlifted to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center with cuts and rope burns on his neck. No adult is believed to have witnessed the incident, she said, and the boy’s family has pieced together details based on the accounts of children who were there.
The boy’s wounds are healing and he is still in school.
It’s obvious, that such accidents shouldn’t be ignored. Instead, it’s a sign that the community should start discussing some uncomfortable topics to prevent similar cases from happening.
Claremont’s population is overwhelmingly white. Its 13,000 residents were 96 percent white, according to the 2010 Census. Only 0.6 percent of residents were African-American.