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‘Just Absurd’: Virginia Teen Who Passed Out at Party Before Racial Slurs Were Drawn on Him and Photos Taken of Him with a Confederate Flag Is Still Seeking Justice Against Suspects Two Years Later

A Black Virginia family is desperately fighting for justice after they say their teenage son was a victim of a racist hate crime.

For nearly two years, the Chambers family’s fight for justice hasn’t been easy, as the family claims authorities are doing more to cover up what happened and protect the white teenagers who allegedly left their son traumatized.

Kristle Chambers and her husband Jerry Chambers Sr. say the past two years have been traumatic for them and their now 18-year-old son, Jerry Chambers Jr.

“From day one, September 14, 2020, the victim walked into the sheriff’s office himself and gave his report,” Kristle Chambers said.

Jerry Chambers Jr., was 16 years old back on Sept. 12, 2020, when he attended a party with a small group of friends who were all white, according to Chambers’ parents.

The teenagers were at a home in Powhatan County, Virginia, about 30 miles west of Richmond. The county of about 31,000 is 88 percent white and 9 percent Black.

The Powhatan Sheriff’s Office describes Chambers as becoming intoxicated and passing out, and while he was unconscious others at the party wrote racial slurs on his face and arm.

Photos show a sex toy placed on his face with mustard smeared on a cheek. Another photo shows Chambers, appearing to be unconscious, sitting on a toilet with his pants down and a Confederate flag draped over him.

“The details written on his head that says, white lives matter, there are also pictures I don’t have possession of that I saw such as on his arms it said n—-r and KKK so for them to try to not classify this as a hate crime is just absurd,” Kristle Chambers said of her son’s predicament.

Chambers’ parents say he filed a police report two days later on September 14, 2020, with the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office but confusion over the initial report filed begins here because, according to the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office, while at the sheriff’s office on September 14, Kristle and Jerry Chambers Sr., “briefly showed a couple of photographs they had found on their son’s mobile phone to the deputy and expressed that they were not sure if they wanted to file a report due to concerns they had about the legal process. No further information was provided at that time,” a press statement said.

The Powhatan Sheriff’s Office also says, “The deputy encouraged them to meet with the Commonwealth’s Attorney to discuss their concerns and the deputy scheduled an appointment on September 15th at 9:45 am for them to meet with the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation’s Division Supervisor. The parents did not attend the appointment. The parents were contacted on two occasions afterwards by the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office and both times they stated they were not interested in filing a report or proceeding in any way with a criminal investigation.”

The Chamberses say the account from the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office alleging they had no interest in filing a report couldn’t be further from the truth.

“The victim went in on September 14, 2020, and gave his report, they never reached back out to us for anything,” Kristle Chambers said.

“They contacted a lawyer, they took their son to two precincts, they don’t look like somebody that’s afraid nor not ready to do anything, that looks like a family that’s ready to do something,” said Bernadette Lark, the Chambers’ family advocate.

The Chamberses say throughout the remainder of 2020 and most of 2021, they believed the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office was investigating the case, only to discover not much had been done.

In December, Lark filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to get federal help on the case because the family feels the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office had not done enough to move the case forward. It was around this time Powhatan Sheriff Bradford Nunnally called the family and admitted his office wasn’t moving fast enough on the case.

The family’s recorded call with Sheriff Nunnally shows him saying, in part: “I understand you came to my office and spoke with my chief deputy. Unfortunately, I was in a meeting and had my phone volume off so I was unaware you all were there, I do want to express to you, I was read into what’s going on with your case with your son today, I’m not happy with the way it’s been handled from what I can tell, looking at what’s been done so far all you all have been told is what we can’t do and not what we can do and that’s not what needs to be done.”

Jerry Chambers Sr. replied saying, “I need some help, that’s what I’ve been crying for almost 14 months now,” to which Nunnally responded, “I understand.”

Powhatan Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Jeffery Seafross admitted to Atlanta Black Star in a statement that investigators identified the teenagers at the party responsible for the alleged acts, but the statute of limitations — citing Virginia Code 19.2.8 — prevents authorities from making any arrests because 15 months had passed until the incident was reported.

Again, the Chambers deny claims they didn’t try to file a report just two days after the alleged incident happened.

“We brought the address, a picture of the house right before we went to the Sheriff’s Office, we brought pictures, they had everything they needed to make an arrest right then and there,” Kristle Chambers said.

The Powhatan Sheriff’s Office says, the case was forwarded to the Commonwealth’s Attorney Office and the FBI for further investigation. The Chamberses believe the slow-moving investigation is the result of a cover-up that started with the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office initial handling of the investigation.

“Back to that statute of limitations, I think they’re referring to simple assault and battery, but this is clearly a hate crime and I think that’s why they’re doing their best not to classify this as a hate crime because again, they’re covering for individuals,” Kristle Chambers said.

While Jerry Chambers Jr.’s case continues to churn and community support builds locally with rallies held in support of the family, Chambers’ parents say he’s been undergoing therapy and dealing with other related psychological trauma stemming from what happened on September 12, 2020.

“Unfortunately, our son was hospitalized multiple times in 2021 due to this hate crime,” Kristle Chambers said of her son.

The Chamberses say they are narrowing down a list of potential attorneys for a possible lawsuit and applying additional pressure on local authorities in their ongoing fight for justice.

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