A little over a month ago, Vaughn K. Roy experienced something that no 14- year-old would ever imagine having happened in this day and time when African-Americans and whites willingly work together, dine together, worship together and socialize together. On July 10, 2006, between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m., Vaughn – who had just left Fort Hamilton High School where he is enrolled in a summer program in preparation for high school this fall – was attacked by a gang of white teens and beaten with a pipe along with a friend.
According to his aunt, Andrea Owensford – who has been doing a great deal of the public speaking on behalf of her sister and Vaughn – said that on the day in question while about a block and a half away from the high school, several white boys approached Vaughn. “You have a problem, why you looking at my girl,” one of the teen boys allegedly said to Vaughn. Owensford said her nephew replied that he didn’t know who the girl was. He and his friends – who proceeded on their journey – assumed that everything was fine. Until, Owensford says, two teen boys came from the corner of where Vaughn and his friends were headed, and started beating the boys with a pipe.
Owensford said that as the boys were getting beat, Vaughn was blocking the blows with his hands and his elbows. Vaughn’s other friend managed to get away. Owensford said that as the boys were beating Vaughn, they were asking, “You want more nigger? What are you doing here, nigger?” What’s worse, she says, is the boys hit her nephew about two or three times before passing the pipe over to the boy who initially accosted Vaughn.
The attacks ended and the teens disbursed, Owensford says, when a female passerby started screaming that she was calling the police. However, Vaughn was later able to identify three of the teen attackers to the dean of the school from Fort Hamilton’s yearbook. According to Owensford, there were about 12 boys involved, ranging from 14 to 20 years old. She says this incident has left Vaughn with emotional scars and 15 stitches. Besides the magnitude of this incident, Owensford says Vaughn – who is a basketball player – is extremely disappointed. He had to forgo playing in the Nike Switch this summer. He shoots with his hand, and that’s the one that sustained bruises.
“Vaughn’s family is taking the beating really hard”, says Owensford, especially since he’s a good student who has never been in trouble in school or with the law. “What’s also troubling is the lack of proper attention and urgency being given to her nephew’s case as well as the attitude and behavior of the 68th Police Precinct”.
“What made Vaughn’s mother even sicker to her stomach is that she thought [the Police Department] had a youth prom going on because [the police] were all there and sitting on the desks – laughing and talking like it was nothing,” says Owensford.
Owensford says Vaughn’s mother initially reached out to Charles Barron’s office. However, no one returned their phone calls. Owensford then reached out to 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. She received a response that same day within an hour time span.
“When we heard the story, it sounded as if the proper protocol wasn’t followed as it relates to a New York Police Department hate-crime procedure,” says Noel Leader, co-founding member of 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care. He explains that proper procedure should be that when officers respond to a situation where there’s a possible hate crime, they are to immediately notify their supervisor – which is the sergeant or lieutenant. Once this person gets on the scene, he or she verifies the important once that there may be a possible hate-crime situation. And then the sergeant or lieutenant calls the duty captain. The duty captain will notify the Hate Crimes Unit, which would ultimately make the determination of whether it’s a hate-crime situation.
“It definitely should have raised some flags amongst the officers who responded or the detective who was assigned the case,” Leader says. “This is definitely a hate-crime situation and [100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care] are upset over the fact that the victim had identified three of the perpetrators inside the next day and some were allowed to leave allegedly by the assigned detective. This 14- year -old will get justice.”
In the end, Owensford and her family are also confident that justice will be served. In addition getting advisement from Leader’s organization, the family has hired Norman Siegel to be their legal representation. And, of course, they look to a spiritual council.
“The bottom line is that God has everything covered, and you will reap what you sow,” Owensford insists. “We want to send a message that anyone who is being raised or has the mentality or learned behavior [to act this way] that this is not acceptable.”
Owensford is extremely proud of her nephew. “When [the attack] happened, Vaughn’s mother was going to immediately take him out, but he said, ‘No, I’m not running.'”
At such a young age, Vaughn has courage and determination. These are character traits of a leader. This is a lesson everyone can learn and appreciate.