Two boys admitted to hanging a Black baby doll from a noose at a playground in Philadelphia to “creep people out,” law enforcement officials say, according to NBC Philadelphia reports.
Police said Thursday that the doll was found in a tree at the playground that used to be a burial site for the Mother Bethel AME Church.
Rev. Mark Kelly Tyler called the incident was a “hate crime,” according to NBC Philadelphia.
“For our people, there was a time when they weren’t baby dolls, but they were real people and real bodies,” Tyler said on Facebook Live on Thursday when he went to the playground and watched police and firefighters cut the doll down from the tree.
The boys, who are under the age of 13 and are of mixed races, admitted to a reporter that they hung the doll. Tyler said he spoke to the boys privately so they can explain what happened.
“They thought like little boys [do], Let’s use it to creep people out,” Tyler said. “Later they found the noose, the hangman’s noose, and thought better to put the noose around the baby doll’s neck and just hang it in an area to scare people.”
“They had no idea about the historical legacy of lynching, what that image would do, the terror that it put into people,” Tyler said, according to NBC Philadelphia.
Prior to the boys’ confession, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said that it was “despicable act” that made him sick. His spokesman told NBC that his comments have not changed in light of the boys’ confession.
Tyler said that he is glad that the boys decided to come forward and admit to what they did.
“I can’t say enough about these kids who were not compelled to come by their parents, their parents didn’t force them, but who came on their own and told the truth when they realized this was a bigger story than they thought,” he said.
Police have not decided on whether charges will be filed against the boys, per NBC Philadelphia.