“He thought the kids were going to shoot him.”
Racial intimidation is vile and dehumanizing, but there are few more disgusting things than when this form of hatred is directed at a child.
Two weeks ago, Mateus Romualdo, an 11-year-old from Murray, Utah, was walking home from school when a car full of teenagers drove by screaming racial epithets him. “He felt very terrified and actually told me he thought the kids were going to shoot him,” his mother, Heather Romualdo, told KSTU-TV.
Heather Romualdo took to Facebook to share her outrage over the incident. The post eventually went viral, catching the attention of Mateus’ youth basketball coach, Troy Harlan.
“I know that when I read the post that his mom wrote about him being scared, I’ve gone through all that,” Harlan told KSTU-TV. “I grew up in Davis County, and I know what it feels like to be one of only two black kids at my school.”
Harlan wanted to be sure Mateus felt safe walking home from school, so he and Mateus’ mother organized a march to accompany him on his walk home from school. Harlan used his basketball connections to round up one of Utah's biggest stars, the Utah Jazz Bear and Jazz legend Thurl Bailey.
“The message I want to happen is that people need to be held accountable,” Harlan said. “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. ”
On Oct. 11, dozens of people from the community came together to walk Mateus home from school. They carried signs condemning racism and even brought along their pets.
Take a look at this wonderful video of community solidarity: