New Hampshire’s governor on Monday ordered the state’s attorney general to help police with an investigation into what appears to have been an attempted hanging of a biracial 8-year-old boy in late August.
“Yesterday on my instruction, the Attorney General’s office sent a team to Claremont to provide assistance,” Gov. Chris Sununu (R) said in a statement shared with TPM Tuesday. “It is my expectation that local and state authorities will investigate appropriately and I’ve asked for regular updates on how things are proceeding. Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire.”
New Hampshire Public Radio first reported the governor’s statement.
There were reportedly no adults present during the incident. But the boy’s grandmother recounted to Valley News what she heard from children who were there, including the boy’s sister: that he was playing in a park with a group of teenagers “when the teens started calling the boy racial epithets and throwing sticks and rocks at his legs.”
The situation escalated, she said, when some or all of the teens stepped on a table with a rope that once held a tire swing, allegedly wrapping it around the boy’s neck and pushing him off the table. The boy’s mother later posted pictures showing rope burn on the boy’s neck on Facebook.
“So my son is being flown to Dartmouth after a 14 year old kid decided to hang him from a tree,” she wrote on Facebook. “I don’t care if this was a so called accident or not. My son almost died because of some little shit teenage kids.”
The boy’s mother added in a subsequent post that she had gone public with her son’s story to “show this country that racism does in fact still exist.”
Claremont’s police chief, Mark Chase, has been next to silent on the case, saying that the alleged perpetrators being minors prohibits him from confirming any details. He only confirmed that the youngest person involved in the case was 8-years-old and the oldest were teenagers, according to NH1.
“These people need to be protected,” he told NH1, adding: “We don’t want things to follow kids throughout their life.”
“Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” he told Valley News separately.
City Manager Ryan McNutt described the incident as “an unfortunate incident between some juveniles,” according to the same outlet.
The city’s response garnered outrage. Claremont was 96 percent white, 0.6 percent African American and 1.8 biracial, according to the 2010 census, the Valley News and the Root noted.
New Hampshire Public Radio noted that a local group affiliated with Showing Up For Racial Justice, an activist group, had planned a prayer vigil on Tuesday afternoon “to show up against racism, and in a show of loving support for all members of the community!” in response to what it called the “CLAREMONT RACIST ATTACK.”