For Cassandra Merlin, the mother of the eight-year-old black boy who was hang with a noose by white teens, the police response to the racial incident has been lackluster.
The story caught national attention not just because of how reprehensible the crime was, but also because of the Claremont Police Department’s initial refusal to release any details of the case due to the age of those involved.
“Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase told Valley News, seemingly siding with the white assailants over the black victim.
Merlin agrees. She told The Root that she felt brushed aside by the authorities — to the point that she felt compelled to share her now-viral story on social media.
“[Comments like the one the chief made] show he doesn’t understand the severity of the situation,” Merlin told The Root in an interview. “Because at the end of the day, [my son] could have died. I feel like they’re not taking it as seriously because he didn’t die.”
The racially-motivated incident occurred in late August when the white teenagers attacked her son Quincy by putting a rope around his neck and pushing him off a picnic table in Claremont, New Hampshire. They were also yelling racial slurs. Quincy surivived though he had a number of injuries around his neck.
Merlin says that the police were already talking about sentencing when Chase first talked to her in the hospital where her son was taken for treatment.
“They said they were just going to suggest juvenile probation. I said, ‘How about some mandatory therapy?’” Merlin said.
Since then, Chase has come to see Merlin at home once this week, saying that the police department was “doing the best that they can.” This includes releasing a “special press release” to the public that shared the basic details of the case and promised that the investigation was being pursued thoroughly.
“I want 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 investigations in a thorough and professional manner,” Chase said in the statement, adding that they would investigate the case as a hate crime if deemed as so.
Is it enough for Merlin? It’s not clear. Quincy has only been interviewed once, and his 11-year-old sister Ayanna, a witness, has not been interviewed at all. Officers are also slow in getting back to Merlin, often following up days later.
“They’re not really good at keeping up with me,” she adds. “They say they’re going to call and then they don’t. And then I call and they’ll return the phone call a couple of days later. And they always say, ‘Well, we have a lot going on, and we’re doing interviews and we’re doing this and that’. And they’re not very good keeping up with me and it’s hard; I have a busy schedule.”