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11-year-old girl says racism behind white woman’s assault


11-year-old girl says racism behind white woman’s assault
This photo provided by Attorney Justin T. Bamberg shows Skhylur Davis. A white woman is charged with assaulting Davis in what the child's lawyer calls a racially motivated attack. Attorney Justin Bamberg says the woman accused Skhylur Davis of stealing her mail on May 11, 2020. (Justin T. Bamberg via AP)

An 11-year-old African American girl from South Carolina said she didn't think a white woman who accused her of stealing mail was being racist until the woman's husband told the girl that if she were “a different type,” things would have turned out differently.

Elizabeth Shirey, 38, was charged with assault and battery after grabbing Skhylur Davis' arm as she walked back to her grandmother's house in Aiken with her mail, according to a police report.

When Shirey saw the address on the mail she let the girl go, apologized and then offered Skhylur cookies, the girl told officers.

“It’s kind of an insult you think that ... you can make up for that with cookies,” Skhylur told The Associated Press in an interview.

Skhylur said when she was grabbed, she was scared the woman might go and get a gun and shoot her. But it wasn't until the woman's husband came out that she felt she was picked out because of race.

According to Skhylur, Shirey's husband said to her: “'If you were a different type of person, it would have been a different story."

Court records did not indicate a lawyer to speak on Shirey's behalf and no one answered a phone listing for her Friday. Her husband declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday, The Augusta Chronicle reported.

A lawyer for Skhylur's family said it doesn't take much imagination to think of a different less confrontational outcome had the girl been white.

“Would there have been so much aggression? Would there have been a physical assault or would it have been an approach that says, ‘Excuse me, little girl. Are you lost? Do you need help?’” attorney Justin Bamberg said.

Skhylur and her family discussed the confrontation and decided to publicize what happened because of prejudice against African Americans, Bamberg said.

“You can’t drive while black. You can’t be Botham Jean sitting in your apartment eating ice cream while black,” Bamberg said, referring to the African American man who was shot and killed while at home by a Dallas police officer who mistakenly entered the apartment, thinking that it was hers.

“And now in Aiken, we’ve seen that you can’t even get the mail for your grandma while black.

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This story corrects a quote in the penultimate paragraph and identifies the person being referred to as Botham Jean.

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