The six teens charged with a bias-crime attack on a gay Atlanta pastor at Piedmont Park will be tried as adults. Four of the teens are minors. The youngest is 13 years old.
Several readers have reached out to us to express their views on the charges. Some readers, like Twitter user @jcstarr are happy with the decision to charge the teens as adults. “GOOD!!! I hope the judge throws the book at them,” he wrote via Twitter.
Several of our Facebook fans supported the charges, as well.
Charges against teens in anti-gay bias crime spark community debate
Other readers, however, have written to us expressing their sadness that the teens will be tried as adults. One such reader, all the way from Scotland, reached out via e-mail:
“I have just read the story regarding the gay pastor and his friend being robbed and beaten on July 2nd, in Piedmont Park, Atlanta. As a woman and a lesbian, I abhor all violence, including hate crimes… however… for children to be tried as adults… is wrong. Children are usually a reflection of their life, and need to be taught lessons… not be tried as fully formed adults. I sincerely hope that your publication will advocate that these youngsters be tried as juveniles… as is the ethically right thing to do.”
Rev. Josh Noblitt, the gay man attacked and robbed in the park along with his partner, had mixed feelings about the charges. Noblitt, minister of social justice at Saint Mark United Methodist Church, said that he was “heartbroken” that one of the attackers was just 13.
Noblitt has worked with youth in his role at Saint Mark.
The teens were in court this morning to be arraigned. Their next court appearance, a bond hearing, is scheduled for Aug. 19.
What do you think? Should the teens be treated as adults or should the legal system show them leniency because of their age?