Imagine minding your own business, walking home from school, only to have a bunch of older kids who should know better hurl racial slurs at you?
That’s exactly what happened to 11-year-old Mateus Romualdo, who was terrified after his experience Thursday. According to KSTU-TV, Mateus was walking home from Viewmont Elementary School in Murray, Utah, when he got the shock of his life.
“He was walking home from school last Thursday when a car full of teenagers drove by repeatedly yelling a racial slur at him,” Heather Romauldo, Mateus’ mother, said. “He felt very terrified and actually told me he thought the kids were going to shoot him.”
Romauldo shared Mateus’ story on Facebook, and the heartbreaking message spread quickly, soon reaching Mateus’ youth basketball coach, Troy Harlan.
“I know that when I read the post that his mom wrote about him being scared, I’ve gone through all that,” Harlan said. “I grew up in Davis County and I know what it feels like to be one of only two black kids at my school.”
Wishing that he could have been with Mateus when the boys called him ugly names, Harlan came up with the idea to organize a walk with Mateus so that he would not be afraid to walk home from school. Hundreds came out to walk the 11-year-old from his school to a park near his home. Harlan even arranged for the Utah Jazz’s Bear mascot, as well as retired Jazz basketball player Thurl Bailey, to appear at the walk and show Mateus some love and support.
“The message I want to happen is that people need to be held accountable,” Harlan said. “You’re not born to hate people; you’re taught to hate people. I don’t care what color you are: We are all the same. ”
Mateus’ mom has filed a police report, and the incident is being investigated.
Read more at KSTU-TV.