Police officer posts homophobic comments after Nigel Shelby suicide
A police officer has been suspended after leaving homophobic comments on a post in tribute to a gay teen who died by suicide.
Alabama sheriff deputy Jeff Graves responded on Facebook to the death of 15-year-old Nigel Shelby, who was bullied at school for his sexuality.
Graves left a number of comments, which have now been removed, including: “Liberty, Guns, Bible, Trump, BBQ, That’s my kind of LGBTQ movement.”
Local news station AL News obtained screenshots of some of the comments.
“I’m seriously offended there is such a thing such as the movement. Society cannot and should not accept this behavior,” Graves posted.
The Sheriffs’ Office provided a statement to local news channel AL News.
“The Sheriff’s Office holds all its employees to a high standard, and the public can be assured that a thorough and complete audit will be conducted and appropriate action will be taken,” said Madison County Lt. Donny Shaw. “The involved employee has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the audit.”
In the statement, sheriff Kevin Turner said he “offers his condolences to the family and friends of Nigel Shelby whose young life was lost to suicide last week.”
“Bullying of any group or person in or outside of schools is unacceptable, and I welcome any and all efforts to raise awareness to bullying and bring bullying to a stop,” Turner said.
Remembering Nigel Shelby
The 9th-grade student took his own life on April 19. Since his death, friends and family have spread messages of love and tolerance across social media.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for his family. It has surpassed its goal of $10,000 and currently has raised over $14,000 in donations.
One person wrote on the donation page: “I’m praying for the family of this young boy. We as a nation and a people need to do better. Support those who are different and live different lifestyles.”
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A candlelight vigil and memorial balloon release were held in Huntsville on April 21, to remember his life. “We’re all hurting for you,” the video caption read.
— AAMU Common Ground (@aamu_cg) April 23, 2019
A fellow schoolmate of Shelby, Nadia M. Richardson, started a mental health awareness campaign called No More Martyrs.
“I am still processing this loss, we have so much to understand and so much work to do. Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism; all of this plays a part,” wrote Richardson.
“Bullying is a by-product of a world ill-equipped to include that which is deemed different. As a result, psychologically damaging othering occurs and leaves many isolated, self-loathing and depressed. Don’t shy away from the necessary conversations around this. The cost is too high.”