A woman in South Carolina has been charged with the third-degree assault and battery of an 11-year-old girl who she wrongly accused of stealing mail.
Skhylur Davis – who is black – was collecting letters for her grandmother Alice Patterson on May 11 when 38-year-old Elizabeth Shirey – who is white – assumed she was up to no good.
Shirey approached a group, which included three other juveniles, grabbed Davis and attempted to pull the mail out of her hands.
When Shirey realized it didn’t belong to her she attempted to rectify her actions by apologizing and offering the little girl cookies.
In a news conference with WRDW, Davis said at that point Shirey’s husband approached them and said: ‘If you were a different type of guy, then this would have been another story.’
Davis said in the news conference that he didn’t use any other word but that ‘you don’t have to think about what type he meant’.
Police responded to the scene and issued a citation to the woman. She wasn’t taken into custody due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Davis’ lawyer Justin Bamberg said it was important to raise awareness of the incident because of the many cases of unprovoked violence against African Americans and because of the child’s young age.
Bamberg mentioned the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was killed by two white men in Georgia on February 23 after he peered into a building site while out jogging. The suspects have claimed they believed Arbery to be a burglar when he was spotted looking at the incomplete structure.
Bamberg told the Augusta Chronicle that Davis is aware of that incident and thinks it’s sad black people are prejudged in such a negative way.
The little girl said in the news conference that past incidents against black people influenced her demeanor in the situation.
‘I wasn’t scared because in this type of situation, you need to do anything but be scared,’ David said. ‘It shouldn’t be like this and it’s wrong.’
Alice Patterson has lived in the middle class area for about a year and said she usually sends her granddaughter down Whitemarsh Drive to get the mail.
She said what happened to her granddaughter is unacceptable and recalled prejudice aimed at her as she grew up.
‘We’re hurt, we’re upset, and we’re angry. She’s angry and hurt. She was violated,’ Patterson said. ‘Growing up in the south, we had to endure this; our parents had to endure this. It’s 2020. We will not have our children go through what we had to go through.’
The attorney said the family isn’t interested in a civil lawsuit but wants the criminal justice system to deal with the case in hope it will mean progress in America.
‘Now, where are we at as a society — forget race, forget ethnicity, forget gender, forget sexual preference — where are we at as a society when an 11-year-old child has to be cognizant of that when she’s interacting with a grown woman?’ Bamberg said.
‘Most importantly, this is bigger than just Mrs. Shirey and what happened. This is a small piece of a much larger puzzle, we want people to understand that you need to think before you act.’
‘People need to stop judging other people based on what they look like, based on the color of their skin. We want the criminal justice system, in this instance in Aiken County, to make an example out of [the woman] to deter other people from ever doing the same thing again.’
Bamberg added: ‘There are zero reason to prejudge people the way we are seeing people being prejudged in America.’
Shirey’s court appearance is set for July 15.
Aiken leaders have expressed support for the child.
During the press conference, District 5 Councilwoman Andrea Neira Gregory told Davis: ‘ I just want you to know that we are proud of you. I can tell that based on what your attorney said that you are an amazing young lady and your family has a lot of reasons to be proud of you.
‘Keep your head up, this will pass, but we are appreciate the awareness you are creating in our society, specifically, the city of Aiken, where this should have never be tolerated.’
Mayor Rick Osborn said: ‘All people deserve to be treated justly, all people deserve to be treated fairly and all people deserve to be treated equal. No person should have concerns about walking down a street in Aiken.
‘Our children should be care-free when they are playing in a public park. No one should be treated differently because of race, gender or any other reason.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail, Leah Simpson