This all started two years ago, when Jordan and Tammy Gray’s 3-year-old daughter’s viewing of “SpongeBob Square Pants” was interrupted when two men broke into their home and robbed them at gunpoint.
When the sentencing hearing came up last month, Jordan Gray wrote a letter in a victim impact statement that their child was in “constant fear of Black men” because of the incident.
“Whenever we are running errands, if we come across a Black male, she holds me tight and begs me to leave,” Gray wrote. “It has affected her friendships at school and our relationships with African-American friends.”
That was enough to set off presiding judge Olu Stevens, who lambasted the couple in court and on Facebook.
“I am offended,” he said. “I am deeply offended that they would be victimized by an individual and express some kind of fear of all Black men.
“This little girl certainly has been victimized, and she can’t help the way she feels. My exception is more with her parents and their accepting that kind of mentality and fostering those type of stereotypes.”
Stevens sentenced the robber facing him, Gregory Wallace, 27, to five years’ probation and no jail time.
The perceived light penalty has drawn criticism, about which Stevens seems unfazed. In fact, supporters of the parents have called for Stevens to be removed from the bench.
“As for my ‘wrath,’ I had none,” the judge wrote on Facebook. “I leave wrath to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and others disgruntled by the ultimate decision. I did not criticize the child. I cautioned the parents against racial stereotyping. If necessary, I will stand alone. I have no animus toward anyone. I have consistently been here for over five years. I look forward to continuing to see you on this medium and in court.”