Residents of Martha’s Vineyard said they were outraged after reports that two white children wrapped a strap around a Black boy’s neck at a local summer camp last week.

Officials said two white boys aged 8 and 9 allegedly placed a tent strap around the neck of an 8-year-old Black boy in their camp group at the Chilmark Community Center, leaving an abrasion on his neck. Officials said children under 12 can’t be held criminally responsible but they are offering assistance to the victim.

“We’ve offered any assistance to the family,” said Police Chief Jonathan Klaren. “We certainly hope the young boy is able to enjoy himself at camp or around town and on the island, but that’s the extent of our involvement, offering our assistance when we can.

The head of the Martha’s Vineyard NAACP released a statement reading in part “This event reminds us that while the island may have a reputation as a racial utopia we are far from it … incidents like this cannot be ignored.” Residents denounced the alleged attack.

“My reaction is that it’s disgusting,” said Aaron Barrows. “The parents are the ones we should be looking at, where are [the children] hearing that behavior from?”

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