In the town of Clinton, La., a white 54-year-old man was arrested and charged with a hate crime and an additional misdemeanor charge after he cornered a 12-year-old Black boy and unleashed a racially-charged tirade.
Ronnie Barnes is accused of pulling down the boy’s pants inside a gas station and using the “n-word” to address the child.
Local outlet WAFB reports that the incident took place on July 25 inside the Good To Go convenience store in the late afternoon. The boy was inside the gas station to pay for his grandmother’s gas when Barnes walked over to him and asked was he a girl as stated in the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office report. The boy’s pants were pulled down around four to five inches, but it was stated his private parts were not exposed.
“The sheriff takes race issues very seriously, and if someone you know commits a crime against someone because of their color, because of their sexual orientation, because of any reason, then we are going to do our best to fully investigate it,” said Det. Kevin Garig of the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office.
Surveillance video from the convenience store also showed Barnes backing the boy into a shelf before hitting him on the back of the head. Barnes is accused of calling the child the “N” word and making other racially charged remarks following the battery.
“Someone merely saying that word in public, while it’s not appropriate, it’s not illegal,” Garig said.
Raw Story writes that the unnamed boy also wore his hair styled in long dreadlocks, which the publication states in their report was the reason why Barnes spoke to him initally.
The boy’s mother was rattled by the incident, saying that since the encounter she or her son haven’t been able to sleep. Barnes was arrested Tuesday and was placed in the East Felicina Parish Jail on a $10,000 bond.