Being Black in America is having to exist in a constant state of self-preservation. No matter our age we are seen as a threat; a thing to be terrorized. Three Black teenagers in Connecticut learned this sad truth when two white men chased them down while yelling racial slurs at them.
NBC News reports that 27-year-old Matthew Lemelin and his 28-year-old brother Michael were arrested on Monday and face charges of risk of injury to a minor and second-degree reckless endangerment. Matthew Lemelin also faces a charge of second-degree intimidation based on bigotry or bias and Michael Lemelin faces a charge with second-degree breach of peace.
On Sunday, Manchester police received a call informing them that someone in a car tried to run over a pedestrian on a bike. One of the boys told police that they were on their way to the gas station when they were run off the road by the two men and another said he was almost hit by the car. One of the men got out of the car and called them “the N-word” as he chased after them. The boys took off, hid in a bush and proceeded to call 911. The man stole one of the bikes that were dropped when the boys took off. Luckily, none of the boys were injured during the incident.
After interviewing the children and witnesses the police identified the suspects, located the car at their home, and made an unsuccessful attempt at contacting them. After more evidence had been gathered on Monday, a warrant was issued for the arrest of the two men.
“These are children and something needs to be done because they should not have to fear for their life. They should not have to fear for their life and my son was in a bush fearing for his life and we need justice.” Christina Torres told NBC Connecticut. Torres is the mother of Nasir White, a 13-year-old who was among the boys targeted. “There’s no doubt in my mind that if they got their hands on one of these little boys, they were going to hurt them. We got to stand together because this could have been very different; I could have woke up on Sunday morning hearing that my child was dead.” Torres continued.
The men are being held on $150,000 bond and have their first court date on Aug. 18. A woman named Samantha Bartone contacted NBC Connecticut and said she was Michael Lemelin’s fiancé. She said that Lemelin is “an upstanding citizen and not a racist.” “We support Black Lives Matter,” Bartone told NBC Connecticut.
Given that her man felt the need to terrorize three Black children who were doing nothing but riding their bikes, I highly doubt that.
According to NBC Connecticut, the community has rallied behind the boys. A rally was held on Monday night where people held signs and vocalized their anger at what occurred. A local business gave three new bikes to the boys. While these are nice gestures, it doesn’t change the fact these boys were traumatized for simply existing while Black.