Hundreds of people came together to walk an 11-year-old Utah boy home from school after he said bullies had shouted racial slurs at him from a car, according to a story from KSTU-TV.
Heather Romauldo spoke with KSTU about her son, Mateus, who had called her on the phone sounding very “frantic” after walking home from Viewmont Elementary school.
“He was walking home from school last Thursday when a car full of teenagers drove by repeatedly yelling a racial slur at him,” Romauldo told KTSU. “He felt very terrified and actually told me he thought the kids were going to shoot him.”
Mateus’ mother filed a police report about the incident.
Romauldo also posted her son’s account on Facebook, where it quickly spread, eventually reaching Mateus’ basketball coach.
Troy Harlan said he felt a personal connection to Mateus’ story, telling KTSU, “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," he added.
In response to Mateus' story, Harlan organized a walk so that the boy would have some company and a feeling of security on his way home from school. Hundreds of family and friends showed up for the event, including the Utah Jazz Bear and retired player Thurl Bailey to join.
“The message I want to happen is that people need to be held accountable," Harlan told KTSU. “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.”
People attending the walk held anti-racism signs and positive messages about unity and cultural pride.
The event also had links to Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Salt Lake Valley and the Southern Poverty Law Center with a request to donate to those who could not attend the walk.
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