Warning: This article contains disturbing descriptions of violence.

Via 11 Alive News

Atlanta Police have arrested three people in relation to a video broadcast on Instagram Live last month showing a 12-year-old boy being physically and verbally assaulted, including with the word “gay” shaved into his hair.

11 Alive News reported the video first appeared on Instagram June 17. In it, adults slap and beat the boy identified only as “Tyler” while also yelling verbal insults at him. The word “gay” appears shaved into his hair as part of the humiliation. Not long after, the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) stepped in to remove the youth from the home and place him in foster care.

APD announced on Saturday the arrests of 35-year-old Brittney Monique Mills, 19-year-old Lorkeyla Jamia Spencer and 18-year-old Jarrode Richards-Nwankwo for the crimes. All three are being charged with cruelty to children, and Richards-Nwankwo has also been charged with battery – family violence.

“The behavior in this social media post was difficult to watch and is absolutely unacceptable. We are appreciative of the number of people who flagged this case with us and for those who provided information on the location where it took place,” APD said in its statement. “Our investigators worked hard to identify those involved and to gather the evidence needed to place each behind bars and we are thankful for their work.”

Shortly after the video was broadcast, Devin Barrington-Ward, a local activist and city council candidate in the same district as the family’s home, spoke out against the unthinkable act. For Barrington-Ward, who is gay himself, the incident also presented an opportunity.

“It popped up on my social media on Friday and when I saw it my heart was broken because I saw a piece of myself in that,” Barrington-Ward told 11 Alive News. “As a black queer man, I have experienced some of the same homophobia and some of the same abuse by the hands of people that I love as a child.”

Barrington-Ward enlisted the help of Hope Giselle, a Black trans activist based in Miami, to reach out to the boy’s mother and discuss “what had took place, about some of the challenges that she’s had as a single mother of eight and about some of the challenges raising a young Black queer child in poverty.” He also got in touch with young Tyler to counsel him on how to cope with the trauma.

“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 said. “I apologized because we didn’t create enough safe spaces to prevent this from happening.” He added that he wants the boy to “see a version of himself in the future; so that, that it does get better and that it’s important to fight for your survival because there is a future for you.”

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