All Sections

Home | News

Sununu moves on potentially racial assault, Claremont chief speaks

New Hampshire Union Leader

September 12. 2017 5:13PM
“Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire,” Gov. Chris Sununu said in a statement after dispatching state investigators to help Claremont police in potentially racial assault incident. (Facebook photo)

CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu dispatched a team of state prosecutors to assist in the police probe of the assault on an 8-year-old boy who reportedly was the target of racial slurs and suffered rope burns on his neck.

“Hatred and bigotry will not be tolerated in New Hampshire,” Sununu said.

Meanwhile, Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase issued his first, detailed statement Tuesday on the incident that’s two weeks old and vowed to pursue tougher criminal penalties if the attack proves to have been racially motivated.

“I know this will not answer all your questions but I want to let all of you know we have taken this incident serious since it was reported and continue to take it serious and I have faith that the investigators are doing all they can to make sure all aspects of this case is investigated,” stated Chase.

“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.”

State law can call for increased prison terms that prove to be hate crimes.

The boy’s family said the teens used racial slurs and then pushed the victim off a picnic table with a rope around his neck.

Chase did not confirm that allegation.

“Furthermore, if we receive information that a crime has been committed and that the actor was substantially motivated to commit that crime because of hostility towards the victim’s religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin or sex, we will seek remedies through enhanced sentencing laws (NH RSA 651:6) or through civil action which can be taken by the NH Attorney General’s Office (NH RSA 354-B:1),” Chase wrote.

Chase revealed he’s had little to say about this incident prior to Tuesday in part because those involved, including the suspect, are under 14 years old and as juveniles covered under confidentiality laws.

“The investigation revealed that an 8 year-old child was injured while he was on private property off of North Street in Claremont, N.H.,” Chase wrote. “The injured child was treated and released from an area hospital for injuries that he received during this incident.”

The boy’s uncle has also posted photos of his injuries on social media and wrote in a post that he wasn’t sure the attack was racially motivated.

But the boy’s grandmother went on record saying that the teens taunted the boy for being half-black.

Sununu said he vows to continuously monitor the matter until its conclusion.

“It is my expectation that local and state authorities will investigate appropriately and I’ve asked for regular updates on how things are proceeding,” Sununu said.

Some civil rights officials criticized Chase’s initial comment on the matter that the Claremont chief made to the Valley News.

“Mistakes they make as a young child should not have to follow them for the rest of their life,” Chase had said.

Within two hours of Chase posting his statement on Facebook, there were 100 comments online and nearly all of them were critical of him.

Faith groups planned to hold a vigil Tuesday night for the boy.