Watch: Viral Video of Family Abusing 12-Year-Old Boy Prompts Out Advocate, Candidate to Act

Wednesday June 23, 2021

Devin Barrington-Ward
Devin Barrington-Ward  (Source:Screencap/11 Alive)

A viral video posted to Instagram Live that showed a 12-year-old Atlanta boy being slapped, verbally abused, and having the word "gay" shaved into his scalp prompted a local equality advocate and city council candidate to take action, local news channel 11 Alive reported.

Devin Barrington-Ward, who lives in the same Atlanta district as the boy's family, said that he couldn't just stand by and do nothing after watching the video go viral online.

"[W]hen I saw it my heart was broken, because I saw a piece of myself in that," Barrington-Ward told 11 Alive.

"As a Black queer man I have experienced some of the same homophobia and some of the same abuse," the candidate shared. "If you saw that and you didn't see anything wrong with that, you're part of the problem."

"The video shows a 12-year-old boy repeatedly hit and threatened with more violence," the news clip detailed. According to 11 Alive, the boy has since been removed from that home by the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS).

In another account of the incident, Daily Dot reports the boy's name is Tyler. "At least four people stand around him," the account describes, adding that one man "has his hand wrapped around the back of Tyler's neck. Two of the people in the video have allegedly been identified as the boy's relatives."

The clip shows one man asking, "You say you're what?" to which Tyler, standing with arms crossed, responds, "Nothing."

"You think this on the side of your head for no reason," the man continues, referring to the word "gay," which has been shaved into the boy's scalp.

A woman, the person presumed to have recorded the video, chimes in, "Now we gonna show them you getting your ass beat."

A woman on the scene can be heard saying repeatedly that the boy "likes this shit" as the man verbally harangues the boy before striking and shoving him.

Barrington-Ward "reached out to the family to talk, with the help of Hope Giselle, a Black trans community organizer, and advocate based in Miami," the 11 Alive report detailed.

Barrington-Ward, Giselle, the boy, and the boy's mother discussed the incident, as well as "some of the challenges that she's had as a single mother of eight" and "raising a young Black queer child in poverty."

"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 recalled. "I apologized because we didn't create enough safe spaces to prevent this from happening."

"He expressed his appreciation for the support," the city council candidate said, "but also made it clear that he wasn't happy with what happened to him."

Per the report, together, "Barrington-Ward and Giselle created two fundraisers for the boy" — "an online fundraiser and an upcoming drag show that will take place this Thursday."

Police are investigating the video.

Watch the 11 Alive news clip below: