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Martha’s Vineyard officials investigating possible racist incident involving kids at summer camp

"Incidents like this cannot be ignored."

Officials in Chilmark are investigating after receiving a report regarding a possible racially motivated incident involving two white kids at a summer camp putting a strap around the neck of a Black child.

The incident happened last Thursday, according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times, citing an email to the community from Jeff Herman, president of Chilmark Town Affairs Council, the group that manages the camp.

During the incident, which took place at the Chilmark Community Center, two white boys, ages 8 and 9, reportedly took a strap from one of the tents and put it around the 8-year-old African-American boy’s neck, the Times reported. The incident left an “abrasion” around the victim’s neck.

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“This event reminds us that while the Island may have a reputation as a racial utopia, we are far from it,” Arthur Hardy-Doubleday, president of Martha’s Vineyard NAACP chapter, said in a statement to the newspaper. “Incidents like this cannot be ignored. Pending the result of the investigation, I would ask the children and their parents to be held accountable for this reprehensible event.”

Chilmark Police Chief Jonathan Klaren said the department “offered any assistance to the family,” according to WHDH. He also noted that due to the boys’ ages, they can’t be charged criminally charged.

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“We certainly hope the young boy is able to enjoy himself at camp or around town and on the island, but that’s the extent of our involvement, offering our assistance when we can,” Klaren told the news station.

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