Shawnee neighbors sickened after 11-year-old girl injured in suspected racially motivated attack

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SHAWNEE, Kan. — Serena Mabin has lived at the Park 67 Apartment complex near Nieman Elementary School for several years. That’s why she was stunned to learn about a potentially racially motivated attack at the complex on Friday between a 12-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl.

“It’s kind of concerning because I have children that are different races,” Mabin said. “My son is a Black boy and you never know what’s going to happen, it’s kind of concerning.”

On Friday, the mother of 11-year-old Nevaeh Thomas said her daughter was being harassed by a 12-year-old boy who was taunting her with racial slurs. Nevaeh Thomas responded by saying, “My black is beautiful.”

That’s when the 12-year-old allegedly assaulted her, hitting her in the head with a pole. Nevaeh Thomas was left unconscious on the ground and bleeding.

On Monday, many neighbors in and around the apartment complex were still in shock.

“That’s just terrible, I feel so sorry for that poor girl, she didn’t deserve that,” Susan Brown said.

Blair Murphy operates an in-home daycare across from the complex.

“That poor little girl didn’t do anything and now she’s been hospitalized and beaten and for what? Because she’s black?”

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said the 12-year-old boy is charged with aggravated battery, a felony. Howe said hate crime charges could be filed in the case, although proceedings in the juvenile system are often handled differently than the adult system.

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