On October 5, an 11-year-old boy named Mateus Romualdo was walking home from school when a car full of teenagers slowed down beside him to shout racial slurs at him. When Romualdo told his mother, Heather, about the incident, he recalled fearing that they would shoot him.
“I honestly never thought there would be this kind of an attack on him,” Heather told reporters. He felt very terrified and actually told me he thought the kids were going to shoot him.”
She then posted a Facebook status describing what happened to her son on October 11. The post garnered a lot of attention, including from Mateus’ youth basketball coach, Troy Harlan. According to Fox News, he was quoted as saying, “I know that when I read the post that his mom wrote about him being scared, I’ve gone through all that. I grew up in Davis County and I know what it feels like to be one of only two black kids at my school.”
Harlan then organized a walk for those interested in accompanying Mateus home. The Fox News report featured a video showing the number of people who showed up to help walk Mateus home. “Don’t let this be the last time you walk for solidarity,” Heather can be heard telling the crowd. Harlan even recruited the Utah Jazz Bear at the walk and retired Jazz basketball player Thurl Bailey.
Fox reported that Harlan said, “The message I want to happen is that people need to be held accountable. You’re not born to hate people, you’re taught to hate people. I don’t care what color you are, we are all the same.”
“Since the incident last Thursday, our family has received an incredible outpouring of support, love, and offers to walk Mateus home from school, from close friends to complete strangers. This peaceful event is an opportunity for all of those that are interested and able to visibly demonstrate their solidarity and support of Mateus and all of the other children who should be able to safely walk home from school, and our ABSOLUTE intolerance of racism,” the post read.
Heather filed a complaint with local police and the case is being investigated.
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