Newburyport police are investigating after a white man yelled racial slurs at a Black teenager who had offered him a doughnut.
The 14-year-old boy’s mother, Adama Barry, says her son was with two white friends downtown last week giving away excess doughnuts they had bought at a nearby Dunkin’ Donuts. She was not with him.
When the boys offered a doughnut to one man, he used the slur, she told The Boston Globe on Tuesday.
“He was asking him, ‘Do you want a doughnut?’ and he went off,” Barry said.
A witness recorded part of the confrontation on cellphone video.
City Marshal Mark Murray, the community’s top law enforcement officer, told The Newburyport Daily News investigators were able to identify the man based on his license plate.
“The Newburyport Police Department is actively investigating this incident, using all resources at our disposal,” Murray said. “We do not tolerate acts of racism or bias in our community, and we will pursue this investigation, wherever the facts take us.”
He said the department will consult with the district attorney’s office to determine whether the incident meets the standard for a hate crime or bias-motivated crime.
The mayor also condemned the incident.
“Mayor Donna Holaday was deeply concerned to learn this incident recently occurred in Newburyport. The city does not tolerate acts of racism or bias in our community or the accosting of our youth,” Matthew Coogan, the mayor’s chief of staff, wrote in an email to the Globe.
Barry said her son, who will be a high school freshman this fall, was shaken and upset, and it is not the first time she and her three children have experienced racism in the community. But she said she has also been heartened by the support she has received from other residents.