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Deep River community rallies against racism, calls for action from town leaders

Deep River community members gathered at town hall Friday to call out racism after an 11-year-old was pushed off his bike because of his skin color, the family said.

DEEP RIVER, Conn. — Community members in Deep River protested racism and hate Friday outside town hall following an incident involving an 11-year-old boy that the family said was racially motivated.

On Monday, video shows 11-year-old Daniel Duncan pushed off his bike by 48-year-old Jameson Chapman. In an earlier video that same day, Chapman is heard questioning where Duncan is from and telling him to “get the f*** out of my town.”

RELATED: Family alleges racism after Deep River man arrested for pushing boy off bike

Chapman was arrested and faces third-degree assault, risk of injury to a child, and breach of peace charges. He’s scheduled to appear in a Middletown court this month. He is not facing bias or hate crimes. 

Attorney General William Tong’s office told FOX61 in a statement, "We are certainly aware of this and have heard from concerned community members. We’ve reached out to Deep River officials. Will monitor the criminal case closely."

Duncan’s mom, Desiree Dominique, said she was shocked when shown the video and said her boys have been targeted in the town previously, but never physically. Duncan suffered cuts and scrapes on his left arm and legs.

“If people have issues with prejudice and racism then that’s something that they have to tend to further own growth,” she told FOX61 Wednesday. 

In the investigation report, it states the boys were riding their bikes when Chapman bumped into them, raised his voice, and told them to watch where they were going. That’s when the first video shows Chapman asking where Duncan is from. Duncan and his friend later encountered Chapman again and he started swearing at them, the report said. The boys then proceeded to go home when they again encountered him. This is when Duncan was pushed off the bike.

Democratic State Representative Christine Palm, who represents Deep River, said the video was heartbreaking to watch. She said Deep River is like other communities across the country.

“I think that woven into the fabric of small-town America, there is an element, however large or small, that is fearful or at least intolerant of the other,” she said. “If you really have a grudge against somebody whom you perceive of not belonging in this town, let’s talk about it.”

Town leaders are planning public forums and workshops to discuss these actions. In June, the wording on a town sign was changed to include derogatory terms toward people of color.

Colin Bennett, with J.E.D.I. in Deep River, which stands for justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, said those conversations are meaningful but there needs to be action.

RELATED: 'The whole community is really let down by what just happened' | Deep River residents react to recent racist incidents in town

“Enough is enough and we need to come together as a community to take action and prevent things like this from happening in the future,” he said. “Myself and a lot of folks that I’ve talked to are really upset and disappointed in the lack of leadership from town hall.”

He said the community is no different than others. The video he said was not shocking to see, however, he said has caught attention because it was captured on video and involved a child.

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Dominique said seeing the support from the community has been heart-opening. John Matthiessen came from Ivoryton to protest. He said people should feel welcome in their community.

“I think this shows that it’s not representative of this community and I think that’s the important thing to remember,” he said. “That shouldn’t happen to a child. It shouldn’t happen to anybody. And nobody wants to live in a community where that kind of thing happens.”

Tony Black is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at tblack@fox61.com. Follow him on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

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