The mother of an 8-year-old biracial boy is breaking her silence after she said her son was assaulted and hung by his neck at the hands of a group of kids.
Cassandra Merlin of Claremont, New Hampshire, says her son Quincy is recovering from injuries he suffered when a group of friends assaulted him and tried to hang him with a rope. She told The Root that it wasn’t unusual for Quincy to be bullied at school, and is calling on the Claremont Police Department to file charges as they pursue a criminal investigation against the suspects.
However, because the alleged suspects are juveniles, police have remained rather quiet on the details surrounding the incident.
Here’s what you need to know about Quincy and the case:
1. Quincy Was Allegedly Playing at a Park With Friends When They Started Assaulting Him
Cassandra told The Root that on August 28, Quincy and his sister Ayanna, 11, walked to a park close to their home in Claremont to meet one of his friends. As they arrived, Cassandra said Quincy noticed a group of kids that he got into an altercation with earlier in the day. Despite that, he and his sister continued into the park.
“This woman had told me earlier that day that the teenagers had been jumping Quincy and she had stopped the fight,” Merlin told the publication. “And Quincy being the kid that he is, he just wants people to like him, (so he) decided to forgive the kids for what they had done and continued to play with them and his sister.”
Once Quincy started playing with the group in the park, though, things quickly turned into roughhousing, Merlin said. The group started assaulting Quincy by hitting him with sticks and throwing rocks at him while making comments about his race, she said.
“White pride” was one of the things Ayanna said she heard the group say as they carried on with their alleged assault, making additional comments about the fact he was black. Things continued to escalate when the group of alleged assailants went over to a tire swing which had the tire broken off and coerced Quincy into putting the rope around his neck.
“The older boys had put the ropes around their necks and they told Quincy that it was his turn to do it,” Merlin said to The Root. “And Quincy got up on the table and put the rope around his neck, and another kid came up from behind him and pushed him off of the picnic table. And they walked away and left him there hanging.”
According to Merlin, Ayanna screamed for help as Quincy dangled, kicking his feet and grabbing his neck before he dropped to the ground.
2. Quincy’s Mother Posted Photos of His Injuries to Social Media
Merlin said she arrived on scene shortly after the incident and saw two “older boys” and a girl running away from the park. She took note of her son’s wounds and said she called police right away, who responded in large numbers.
Quincy was put into a neck brace and provided oxygen by emergency personnel. He was then airlifted via helicopter to Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H. where he recovered from his injuries. The medical center is about 20 miles away from where the incident took place.
Merlin said Quincy was in the hospital for nearly two days undergoing tests. Thankfully, he didn’t sustain permanent damage and mentally he appears to be fine aside from “some night terrors,” she said. However, she said Ayanna has been left mentally scarred from the ordeal.
After the incident, Merlin posted images of Quincy’s injuries to social media, saying he “almost died” because of the assault.
“So my son is being flown to Datmouth after a 14 year old kid decided to hang him from a tree,” Merlin wrote in a Facebook post. “I don’t care if this was a so called accident or not. My son almost died because of some little s**t teenage kid. Quincy is doing okay, just keep him in your prayers.”
3. The Community Held a Vigil in Quincy’s Name
Once news of the alleged assault circulated, the community of Claremont rallied around Quincy. Hundreds of people gathered September 12 to rally for tolerance after his attempted “lynching,” Valley News reported.
The rally was called a “Time for Reflection” and attendees held signs and chanted about standing together in such a time of trouble.
“The purpose of this gathering is really to declare that racist acts in our community are not acceptable,” organizer Rebecca MacKenzie told the crowd.
Politicians and organizations have also spoken out on the incident. New Hampshire U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster noted she was sickened by the details around the incident.
“Like many others, I’ve been outraged and sickened by the chilling images on social media and in the news of a young boy whose neck has been gouged by a rope,” she said in a statement. “No parent can look at this photo without feeling a pit in their stomach. The reports that this was potentially a race-based act of violence underscores the need to gain a full understanding of what happened.”
4. Police Say They’re Investigating the Incident as a Criminal Act, but Remain Mum on Details
Since the incident, officials from the Claremont Police Department have remained rather mum on the investigation. However, that changed after increase scrutiny. The police department issued a “special press release” regarding the September 12.
“Claremont Police detectives assigned to this case are taking all steps possible to investigate the incident and have been doing so since the police became involved in this matter in late August,” the statement said. “The investigation principally revolves around the conduct of people who are 14 years-of-age or younger.”
Read the full statement below:
Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase was present at the vigil for Quincy and said he’s relying on the assistance of the community to help stop hate.
“The policy of the Claremont Police Department is to safeguard the civil rights of every citizen regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, handicap or sexual orientation,” Chase said. “Although that’s our policy, that’s our duty. There’s no doubt that we need help in doing this. There’s an old proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child. It takes that same village, the same one I’m looking at right now, to ensure there’s equal justice for all.”
Watch Chase’s speech at the vigil below:
One day prior to the vigil, Merlin said to The Root that Chase showed up at her boyfriend’s home after the story started to go viral. She said Chase told them police are “doing the best that they can.”
When police initially showed up at the hospital, Merlin said she was told they were going to suggest juvenile probation for the group of suspects and that they should be protected.
“Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” Chase said.
5. A GoFundMe Campaign Has Raised Thousands of Dollars
After the incident, a friend set up a GoFundMe campaign with the intention of paying for therapy and emotional support for the family.
Quincy and his sister have both suffered extreme psychological trauma as a result of this racially motivated crime. Psychotherapy is the most effective form of treatment for healing from the effects of trauma. Therapy or counseling can help people who have experienced trauma make sense of their experiences and feelings, develop plans to stay safe, learn healthy coping skills, and connect with other resources and support. Quincy, his sister and family need therapy and emotional support to begin the long healing process in front of them.
The description said that the family is “currently living in the neighborhood this crime took place, do not feel safe and will need to move.”
“Plus, Quincy’s sister attends school with the teens who hurt her brother and is having a difficult time being at the same school,” it said.
In addition to that, Quincy and Ayanna’s younger brother was diagnosed with a blood disorder and was hospitalized.
“As a result, the children’s mother, Cassandra, is struggling with significant financial hardship due to the loss of work incurred when she is caring for her sick and injured children,” the description reads.
Merlin noted in a Facebook post that on September 11, she was told her youngest son needed treatment for the disease (Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura) and will be in the hospital for a couple of days.
In one day, the GoFundMe campaign raised over $10,000 toward its $20,000 goal. To donate to the cause, click here.