Text of Maurice Possley’s Statement to Local Reporters Re: Racist Incident at Our Home
The following was the statement written and read by my husband, Maurice Possley, about the events of 12/27/2016 to two local newspaper reporters in Laguna Beach, Calif., the afternoon of Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 in the office of St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, where our family worships:
“On December 27, two days after Christmas and just 15 days ago, our son—and our home in Laguna Beach—were the target of a hate crime because our son is black. He was targeted because of the color of his skin.
“We are here to today to tell you what happened, to denounce such behavior as repugnant and offensive, so that our friends, our neighbors and our fellow citizens will understand that even though we live in the bubble of Laguna Beach, we are not immune to hatred.
“And that it must stop now.
“This is what we know:
“Earlier on the night of December 27, five boys who are, just like our son, students and athletes at Laguna Beach High School, ate dinner together at a local restaurant and planned their evening. They drove to a grocery store where video cameras captured them purchasing a watermelon and other items—including toilet paper, eggs, and an eggplant—to be used in their acts of vandalism and hate.
“Chanting our sons name in unison, they drove to our house where they stopped and called our son’s name in an apparent attempt to lure him outside and then hurled the watermelon across our driveway where it smashed into pieces and landed inches from our open front door.
“Inside, we were sitting down to eat a celebratory meal with my wife’s brother, an Air Force pilot who had returned recently from a six-month tour of duty fighting ISIS. It was his fourth such tour of duty and the first time he’d seen our son—his only nephew—in more than a year.
“You could see our Christmas tree clearly from the street where they stopped their car near the lip of our driveway long enough to hurl the heavy fruit and at least one expletive and racial epithet—“F— you, n—-er!”— before careening back up the hill back into the night like the cowards they are.
“On Monday, the five boys were questioned by Laguna Beach police and Laguna Beach high school officials. All have made statements implicating themselves in this hateful behavior.
“We want to praise the police department and school officials for their prompt action and full attention to this matter. At this point, it remains under investigation and therefore we will have no further comment about it or what punishments—legal and civil—the boys may receive.
“We want to emphasize that we are speaking publicly about this matter because we believe that this kind of racist, hateful, intimidating behavior is not what Laguna Beach is about. We are not here to talk about retribution or to paint ourselves or our son as victims. Because he is not. We are not. He is not. Our family was, however, targeted precisely because of the color of his skin and not the quality of his heart or character.
“Make no mistake about it. This was a hate crime.
“We are here to let the people of Laguna Beach know the facts of what happened to us and call upon everyone to stand together to send a clear, articulate message that this kind of hateful act is not tolerated in Laguna Beach. Not because of the color of someone’s skin. Not because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity. Not because of their religion, their ethnicity, or country of origin.
“Moreover, we are speaking out publicly with the hope that by doing so, we can help stop this from happening again. To be silent might embolden others to consider to commit similar hateful acts, believing there would be no consequences for their actions—that they can get away with it because their potential target would be too afraid or ashamed to go to the police or to call them out publicly.
“To remain silent is to give tacit permission for others to engage in similar corrosive behavior. We will not be silent.
“So let this be a teachable moment for our community. We’re known as a community that not only “tolerates” diversity and individuality but EMBRACES it.
“Let’s embrace everyone—not just those who are similar to us, or with whom we agree politically, spiritually, or in any other way.
“We have to try harder as a community. We must do better as a village, as models of behavior, character, and values for our children.
“The actions of these five boys do not define Laguna Beach and should not. We must have ZERO TOLERANCE for any acts of hate, no matter who the perpetrators are or how they express their vitriol.
“We are better—more generous, open- and kinder-hearted, than this, Laguna. Hug your children. Be kind to each other. Welcome the stranger. Reach out to those on the margins. Speak up when you see or hear anyone being mistreated.
“Love is stronger than hate.
Posted on: January 12, 2017