A 14-year-old white teenager in Massachusetts has been charged with attempted murder and assault for allegedly trying to drown a Black teenager in a racist attack. The incident, observed by several witnesses, has shocked many people for its brutality.
Alleged attempted drowning and “George Floyd” taunt
The alleged attacker, John Sheeran, and another white teenager are said to have mocked and attacked a 15-year-old Black teenage boy at Goose Neck Pond in Chatham, Massachusetts, in July. According to statements made by the victim and witnesses, Sheeran and the other boy initially threw rocks at the victim. They later convinced the victim to join them in the water of the pond. the Black teen indicated that he could not swim and wore a life jacket. Once in the water, Sheeran is said to have called the boy the N-word and attempted multiple times to pull him under the water.
When the victim began to shout that he couldn’t breathe as water entered his mouth and nose, the other white teen apparently “started laughing and called me George Floyd, obviously making fun of me and showing NO remorse,” according to the victim’s statement, NBC10 Boston reported. Another teenager who witnessed the incident also reported hearing one of the people say Floyd’s name. Two other teens witnessed these events, and a teen intervened to stop the attack when the victim began to shout for help.
Community condemns attack while defendant’s lawyer downplays actions
Sheeran appeared in court Monday. Sheeran, who had been declared dangerous during an earlier hearing last month, was released on bail over the objection of prosecutors, who claim that he remains a danger. Notably, Sheeran allegedly punched an Asian child in the face hours after the pond attack.
Sheeran’s lawyer has downplayed the incident at the pond, describing it as “horseplaying,” according to NBC10 Boston, and “a stupid act that was carried way too far,” WCVB reported.
The local community, meanwhile, has expressed its outrage over the attack. The Chatham school board released a statement expressing its dismay at the incident, stating that “we do not believe that it reflects the true nature of our community, which is diverse and inclusive,” NBC10 Boston reported. The board added that “we condemn all acts of violence, particularly those directed at children.” Although the teens involved do not go to Chatham schools, the local school board released its own statement, saying that “the alleged actions are incredibly concerning and stand in stark contrast to the values we hold as a school district and as a community,” NBC10 Boston reported. According to the Cape Cod Times, the head of the Cape Cop NAACP said, “We are also committed to working with other social justice organizations on Cape Cod to help put an end to these types of incidents until racial violence becomes a relic of the past.”
As this case moves through the courts, it will continue to highlight the ongoing problem of racist violence that continues to leave even Black children vulnerable to horrible attacks. Many eyes will be looking at Massachusetts to see if it will carry out justice in this attack and potentially set a tone for how to deal with similar incidents elsewhere.