Woman cited in case that family believes has racial undertones

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Tuesday, May 19, 2020

(Source: WRDW)

AIKEN, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- The family of an Aiken 11-year-old African-American girl is looking to raise awareness of what they believe to be a racially-tinged incident with a 38-year-old white woman.

The Aiken Department of Public Safety charged the woman with third-degree assault and battery in connection with the May 11 incident.

According to the DPS incident report, the woman approached a group of three juveniles who were next to a mailbox.

The juveniles, 11-year-old Skhylur Davis, were outside to get the mail for their grandmother, attorney Justin Bamberg said, when the incident took a turn.

The woman, the incident said, grabbed the child and told her that the mail was not hers and attempted to pull the mail away from Davis.

The report indicates the woman then looked at the mail, realized it was not hers, and let go of Davis while apologizing.

The woman also offered cookies to the children as her husband arrived to intervene, the report said.

While the report does not say what her husband said to the juveniles, Bamberg and Davis said during a news conference Tuesday that his comments were racial in nature.

"He said, 'If you were a different type of guy, then this would have been another story,' but he doesn't use any word other than type," Davis said.

The report goes on to say that the responding officer spoke to the woman, who realized it was a misunderstanding when she looked at the mail. She indicated that she also attempted to apologize.

The woman was issued a citation in the case.

Davis' grandmother, Alice Patterson, called the behavior unacceptable.

"We're hurt, we're upset, and we're angry. She's angry and hurt. She was violated," the grandmother 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."

Bamberg said bringing awareness to this case was important because of the recent incidents involving African-Americans like Ahmaud Arbery.

Police in Brunswick, GA say Arbery was shot and killed during a morning run on Feb. 23 by two men who believed him to be a burglary suspect.

But what raises the profile of this case, according to Bamberg, is the fact that it involves an 11-year-old and her understanding of race relations.

"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.

Bamberg is looking for this case to go through the criminal justice system and isn't looking at any civil action.

"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 said.

The woman is scheduled to appear in court on the citation on July 15.

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