On instruction from New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, the New Hampshire Attorney General's office has sent a team to Claremont, NH, to assist in the investigation of an Aug. 28 incident in which an 8-year-old biracial boy was allegedly nearly hanged by a group of white teenagers.
The teens are alleged to have thrown rocks at the boy and taunted him with racial slurs. He was treated for rope burns and cuts to his neck.
In a statement Tuesday, Sununu said he expects "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.”
This comes after police refused to comment on the incident for several days, saying rules on juvenile crimes prevented them from disclosing information on the case.
A photo of the boy's injuries that his grandmother posted on Facebook has been widely circulated and has attracted attention in the local and national media; and local and national activists have called for more transparency and open conversation about the incident and race relations in the mostly-white city of Claremont.
Police Chief Mark T. Chase issued a statement Tuesday, saying that he wants to assure everyone "in our community, our neighboring communities, and the nation at large that we take all reports made to this agency very seriously, and will complete our investigation in a thorough and professional manner. Furthermore, if we receive information that a crime has been committed and that the actor was substantially motivated to commit that crime because of hostility toward the victim's religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or sex, we will seek remedies through enhanced sentencing laws..or through civil action."
More than 100 people gathered last night at a park in Claremont offer support to the boy's family, and to call for greater action against racism.
Several religious leaders were joined by city officials at Tuesday's rally. They say they hope this will be the beginning of a conversation about race relations in Claremont.