Civil Rights activists call for hate crime charge in Deep River incident
Deep River — Civil rights activists Wednesday called for a hate crime charge to be brought against a 48-year-old white man who allegedly pushed an 11-year-old biracial boy off his bike in June.
"Yes, the individual was arrested, but we feel as though this is more a hate crime than it is a risk of injury to a young kid," the Rev. Boise Kimber of First Calvary Baptist Church in New Haven said.
"This case here is a case of harassment," Kimber said at a news conference outside Deep River Town Hall on Wednesday morning.
Jameson Chapman, a town resident, was arrested by state police and charged with risk of injury to a child, second-degree breach of peace and third-degree assault. He was later released after posting his $10,000 bond, per police records. He is scheduled to appear at Middletown Superior Court on Monday July 11, according to police records.
Deep River is a small town of 4,480 people, according to the latest census data from CTData Collaborative and AdvanceCT. Of the nearly 4,500 residents, 90% are white compared to 3% for the Black population. The state as a whole sits at 67% and 10%, respectively.
"This is a nation that we've been living in where all we are saying is 'It's all good,' but it's not," Pastor John Lewis of the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence said. "These are little things that are creeping up right now."
Lewis later quoted the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
The incident in question was video recorded by a friend of the boy. Two separate videos depict the victim's encounter with Chapman, one of which shows the 48-year-old shoving the sixth grader, Daniel Duncan, off his bike and yelling, "Get the f*** out of here."
A second video of a prior encounter shows Chapman confronting Duncan, who is heard asking, "Did you grow up in Connecticut?" When Duncan responds "no," Chapman's retort is "So get the f*** out of my town." Both videos were obtained by FOX61.
When asked if he thought it would be difficult for the state's attorney to bring a hate-crime charge against Chapman, who Kimber said is "dangerous" and "needs to be watched," Kimber reminded those in attendance that Duncan was not alone at the time of the incident.
"Why did he have to single out this one biracial, Black individual?" Kimber asked. "That's who he singled out."
Duncan's mother, Desiree Dominique, said her son is "traumatized" and is afraid to leave the house. She said this was not the first time her family has been in a situation like this.
She said her other son was shot with a pellet gun by teens three weeks ago and that both boys have faced verbal harassment in school. Kimber said the perpetrators were arrested for the pellet gun incident, but he does not know where the case currently stands.
In early June, the town's message board was altered to display racially derogatory terms.
"Look at where we are. We are in Deep River, Connecticut, and there are not many of us — and when I say us, not many Black people — who are in Deep River," Kimber said.
Kimber welcomed the idea of a conversation with the town's first selectman, Angus L. McDonald Jr., as well as the superintendent of schools, Brian White, and the state's attorney for the Middlesex Judicial District, Michael A Gailor. Kimber made it clear that in order for change to occur, both parties need a seat at the table.
"We're brave enough to come to Deep River today to change the course and the attitude of the people in this community," Kimber said.