Our View: It Can Happen Here


It was almost as if a shock wave went through the community last week when word spread that a 14-year-old boy was being indicted for the attempted murder of another teen. The impact was compounded by Cape and Islands District Attorney Robert Galibois’ characterization of the incident as “racially motivated.”

Because in the eyes of some, that sort of thing just doesn’t happen here.

While the case still has to make its way through the justice system, and the teen — as well as a second 13-year-old allegedly involved — is presumed innocent, it is clear that something awful happened at Goose Pond July 19. Whether the victim, who is Black, was targeted by the two white teens because of his race will be determined as the case plays out. But the allegations as outlined in police and court reports reveal a disturbing, hidden racism that those involved locally in social justice issues say is not unfamiliar to them.

To their credit, Chatham and Monomoy school officials have acknowledged the incident and not tried to sweep it under the rug out of concern for the town’s reputation. Shining a bright light on this sort of alleged behavior means that it can’t be ignored and forces us to confront issues that can be difficult and painful. Minimizing it as “horseplay” is also not acceptable; as Monomoy Superintendent of Schools Scott Carpenter said, the situation threatens to feed the polarization that is already plaguing society today, and it’s important to hear all voices and not marginalize anyone.

Even though the identity of the 14-year-old suspect has become public, The Chronicle is not publishing his name, nor that of the other teen who officials expect to charge, because of their ages. Should they be convicted in a court of law, we will revisit this decision.

We would like to see a community meeting convened to allow residents to air their concerns and talk through this incident. Perhaps the Nauset Interfaith Association, a local church or the school department will take on this important task, because as we now know, that sort of thing can happen here.