A 14-year-old Black Boy Scout was the subject of physical and verbal racism during a weekend trip. The culprits, fellow Scouts, threw rocks at the teen and called him the N-word.
The victim, who has remained anonymous, is the son of Ethiopian immigrants. He is a member of a Georgia-based troop, Troop 10, that was camping next to a troop hailing from Alabama, Troop 76.
The boy’s mother, who also did not wish to be named, told AL.com that some of the Scouts (not the ones from Alabama) were seen at the camp donning Make America Great Again hats. She confirmed that boys threw rocks at and used a racial epithet against her son.
The Boy Scouts of America’s national leadership team is entirely white (and almost exclusively male).
Leanne Potts, the mother of a boy in Troop 10, also corroborated that version of events.
“Potts said she thinks Trump has fostered an atmosphere of intolerance that contributed to the Scouts’ behavior at camp,” AL.com reported.
“It upsets me that this is that boy’s summer camp memory,” Potts told the outlet.
Troop 76’s scoutmaster, Dr. Rob Spiegel, rejected the allegations, calling it “misinformation” and saying, “Things happen at camp.”
“The rocks are not accurate,” he told AL.com. Regarding the use of the N-word, Spiegel would not say one way or the other.
“We have African American kids in our own group,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a story. I’ve seen a lot worse things happen at camp.”
But Liberty Crossings United Methodist Church, Troop 76’s sponsor, thought the issue was worth addressing. The Rev. Wade Griffith, the church’s senior pastor, in an email to his congregation called the incident “very regrettable and is absolutely inconsistent with the values and high ideals of scouting and, more importantly, the United Methodist Church.”
“I am thankful that the Troop leadership acted decisively to evaluate the situation and to punish those responsible,” he continued. “We are a church that is dedicated to loving God and loving ALL people. As such, we strive to be a safe place for any person to come and seek God through worship, study, and service. Going forward, we will continue to work to ensure that those values are reflected in every aspect of our church’s ministry.”