A Black family in Pennsylvania got to experience firsthand the impact of 400 years of white supremacy emboldening white people to act overtly racist when a white man wielding a sword threatened them and made a comment about their race.
According to NJ.com, Antonio and Diana Bellamy were on an ice cream date with their three children at a park near the Delaware River in Morrisville, Pa. When Antonio dropped the family off at the park and went to a nearby Dairy Queen to get their order, a white man wearing a Samurai-style sword on a sling approached the family and told them to “Obey the governor’s orders.” The family was confused about what he meant by “the governor.” They had their face masks but weren’t wearing them as they were alone and were about to eat ice cream. When their six-year-old son laughed at the comment, the man turned and said “It’s funny how you minorities want to be treated equal but you can’t follow the rules.”
The family said the man’s comment instantly ruined their outing. When Antonio returned and was informed about what happened, he initially set off to confront the man only to stop after his son said “Daddy, no.” The family gathered their things and immediately left. Antonio and Diana took to Facebook to detail the encounter and their feelings about what transpired.
“I have to not only protect them from the mental anguish that comes with the pandemic but all the mental anguish for being hated because of their skin color,” Diane wrote. “They felt unsafe and feared what could have happened as they stood defenseless before a white man with a sword whose words were insensitive, ignorant, insulting, and racist,” Antonio wrote in a post that was meant as a letter to the Morrisville police chief.
The thing that upset the family most about the incident was the effect it had on their 10-year-old daughter, Serenity. While they were in the car, Serenity began crying and said “Why do they hate us so much?! Just why?” As well as “It’s just not fair,” repeatedly. Diane said that the family has tried to turn this into a teachable moment with the children. As a result of Serenity asking “Why can’t we hate them back?,” the family has tried to convey why it’s better to move with love. “We are literally trying our best to teach them to love when hate feels so right and easy at times,” Diane said.
Antonio’s post included a demand for Morrisville police chief, George McClay, to publicly condemn the type of racism they experienced. McClay responded by calling Antonio personally and issuing a statement on Facebook.
“The words and actions of this one individual, who lives in a community across the river, reflects poorly on our own community and should not be tolerated by anyone in our community,” McClay said in a statement, also posted to Facebook.
McClay, on Friday, said he knows exactly who the man was, as he is familiar to many police officers and residents. First, the chief said, the sword is not real, it’s a wood replica the man wears as part of an exercise regimen during which he dresses in military-style clothing. Secondly, the man, a Trenton resident, has never “pulled” the sword.
While McClay believes the family’s story, no charges will be filed against the man. He said that while officers have had to respond to several complaints regarding the man, they never have risen to the level of a crime. I’m no legal scholar but I feel like intimidating and harassing people while holding a weapon, real or not, should at least result in a fine, especially if the person has a track record of repeatedly harassing people.
While this story is heartbreaking, the family has said the wave of support they’ve received on Facebook has been encouraging. Diane hopes that sharing their story will make people realize the effect racist rhetoric has on children.
“People need to see what it feels like for a kid,” she said.