Three people have been arrested on child cruelty charges after video footage was circulated online showing a 12-year-old boy being abused for doing “gay s**t”.
Jordan Jarrode Richards-Nwankwo, 18, Lorkeyla Jamia Spencer, 19, and Brittney Monique Mills, 35, have been charged with cruelty to children by the Atlanta Police Department over the shocking video.
Richards-Nwanko is facing an additional charge of battery, police said.
The boy’s mother reportedly uploaded video footage of the adults slapping, shoving and verbally abusing the boy, who has been named only as Tyler, to Instagram Live in June.
In the video, the assailants said they were punishing Tyler for doing “gay s**t”. They also shaved the word “gay” onto the side of his head.
The video sent shockwaves through Georgia’s LGBT+ community, with many expressing anger and sadness at the disturbing treatment of the 12-year-old boy.
Tyler was taken into protective care as soon as authorities were able to identify who he was.
Three arrested in Atlanta, Georgia over ‘difficult to watch’ video of 12-year-old boy
In a statement issued following the arrests, Atlanta Police said they were “pleased” that they had been able to track down the assailants and charge them.
“The behaviour in this social media post was difficult to watch and is absolutely unacceptable,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement.
“We are appreciative of the number of people who flagged this case with us and for those who provided information on the location where it took place.
“Our investigators worked hard to identify those involved and to gather the evidence needed to place each behind bars and we are thankful for their work,” investigators said.
JUST IN: Three adults were arrested for verbally and physically abusing a young boy b/c his sexual orientation. The viral video showed him being hit repeatedly and someone shaved ‘gay’ on the side of his head. They are charged with cruelty to children and battery @FOX5Atlanta pic.twitter.com/509tjuutlq
— Eric Perry (@Ericperrytv) July 17, 2021
Sergeant John Chafee of Atlanta Police Department told FOX 5 Atlanta that the social media footage was “difficult to watch”.
“When you see someone, you know, I have a child, and when you see a young person being abused like this, I mean this is just so unnecessary.”
He added: “There is a lot of work that goes into the background of these cases because we don’t want to just, ‘Okay, this is the person and I am going to go ahead and charge them.’ We got to present evidence in court otherwise our charges mean nothing.”
All three of the assailants have been admitted to the Fulton County Jail over the video.
Activists are raising funds for the child
There was a wave of backlash in June when the video first appeared on social media, with community groups and local activists expressing horror at the mistreatment of Tyler.
City council candidate Devin Barrington-Ward told FOX 11 at the time that he experienced some of the same “homophobia and some of the same abuse” growing up.
Barrington-Ward reached out to Tyler “so that he could see a version of himself in the future” and to show him that “it does get better”.
“What I told him on the patio at his home is that you’re loved, we care for you, we got your back,” Barrington-Ward said.
“I apologised because we didn’t create enough safe spaces to prevent this from happening.
“He expressed appreciation for the support but also made it clear that he wasn’t happy with what happened to him.”
Before Tyler was removed from his family’s care, another video was uploaded to Instagram that showed him saying he was “good” with what had happened to him.
“My brother and them, they didn’t abuse me,” he said in the video. “They were just showing me, like, you need to stop doing that.”
However, a voice could be heard in the background saying: “Say it [N-word]” before Tyler spoke.
Barrington-Ward and Hope Giselle, a Black trans community organiser, have set up a GoFundMe to raise money to cover Tyler’s clothing, shoes and other basic needs.
They have already raised more than $9,000.