12-year-old boy's head shaved for being 'gay' in shocking video, three family members charged

Tyler has since been removed from his mother's custody by DCFS after there was a massive uproar on social media


                            12-year-old boy's head shaved for being 'gay' in shocking video, three family members charged
Tyler as seen in the video of his abuse (Twitter/Gaye magazine)

Trigger Warning: Violent and disturbing content

A shocking video made rounds on the Internet on Thursday, June 18, leaving social media rattled by the harrowing abuse of a preteen because of his sexuality. Identified as Tyler, the 12-year-old boy from Atlanta, Georgia, can be seen getting abused and beaten by at least four people towering over him while another person films the Instagram live. Tyler is seen on camera wearing a red shirt, with his arms crossed across his chest in an alert stance, flinching every time the man next to him moves his arm. The reason behind Tyler's fear is soon outed as verbal abuse leads to slaps and aggravated hitting from the man next to the young boy.

On July 16, following a month-long investigation by the Atlanta Police Department's Special Victims Unit, three members of the family were arrested and charged with child abuse. They have been identified as Lorkeyla Spencer, 19; Brittney Mills, 35, and Jordan Richards-Nwankwo.

The boy has also been removed from his family's home by the Georgia Division of Family and Children.  

“The behavior in this social media post was difficult to watch and is absolutely unacceptable,” the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement.

"We are appreciative of the number of people who flagged this case with us and for those who provided information on the location where it took place,” the statement went on. “Our investigators worked hard to identify those involved and to gather the evidence needed to place each behind bars and we are thankful for their work.”

The horrific abuse video

Coming right in the middle of Pride month as what looks like yet another unfathomable homophobic incident, the video is disturbing to say the least. The frame focuses on Tyler's head shaved in messy fonts to spell the word "gay" as those around him accuse him of liking "this s**t" and "still doing gay s**t." It is believed that Tyler's older sister and brother were among the people abusing Tyler gang upon him as the boy tries to evade their questions and earns one heavy blow after the other. Social media expressed intense outrage with neighbors identifying the boy and calling out his mother for this family abuse.

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While it's not confirmed whether Tyler's mother ever appears in the video or not, social media was left more concerned by a follow-up video where Tyler allegedly seemed to be forced to urge social media to leave his siblings alone. The only respite for those left worried about the boy's safety is that the Georgia Division of Family & Children Services (DCFS) removed the child from his home and his mother's custody just a day later after the abuse video went viral. 

Posted originally by the outlet Gaye, the video of Tyler's abuse begins with at least two men in the frame of the video, with one wearing white — hand wrapped around the back of Tyler's neck, grabbing and shaking the boy as the older man talks. “You say you’re what?” one of the men asks Tyler, referring to his sexuality, to which the boy replies, “Nothing." The man asks him to repeat the answer as a woman says in the background, “And he like this s**t."

Tyler, without responding, stands in the protective position, looking upset, as the man grabbing his neck says, "You still doing gay s**t,” the man says. "You think this on the side of your head for no reason," the man asks, pointing out the word "gay" shaved across the side of Tyler's head as he pushes the boy so hard, he almost falls backward. As a woman in the background accuses Tyler saying, “You like this type of stuff,” the man again punches Tyler in the arm.

Members and allies of the LGBTQ community dance and celebrate at the end of the Pride Walk and Rally in Freedom Plaza on June 12, 2021 in Washington, DC (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the video going viral, social media has erupted into a rage so furious that authorities were forced to look into the matter and take necessary action. Taking it to Twitter, one user who claimed they have worked with LGBTQ++ people for years and witnessed the damning impact parental behavior can have on their children, wrote “I can’t share the video of that Black child being abused and humiliated. It triggered me and is triggering. It’s been said before, but if you are deeply invested in determining your child’s gender or sexuality for them, do not have children." They further added: "It’s too common and there is rarely accountability. And if you think there is a wide enough safety net to catch them, to prevent outcomes that love and affirmation at home could’ve, no.”

Others have also paused to reach out to Tyler on his supposed personal Instagram, leaving messages of support under his posts, writing comments like “You are loved,” and “Be strong in this struggle. You are gonna come out on the other side a KING!! God loves you and so do I." But the account, that gained 35,000 followers recently, ended up deleting those comments sent by supportive strangers. The same account also posted another Instagram live just hours after the abuse video was shared, that left users increasingly concerned about Tyler's safety.

The video sees Tyler seated in front of the screen with a cap on his head as two people keep walking in and out of the room in the background of the video. During the live session Tyler says, "My brother and dem, they didn't abuse me. They were just showing me [that I] need to stop doing that. I just wanted to get this off of my sister, like my sister didn't do nothing or my brother, they were just showing me the right thing to do. It wasn't like they was abusing me...they would never do things like that." But social media was worried as they think Tyler was being forced to deny abuse, after a voice in the background can be heard saying, "say it (n-word)."

Members and allies of the LGBTQ community participate in the Pride Walk and Rally through downtown Washington, DC (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Soon people contacted Child Protective Services (CPS) to get involved and the Atlanta Police Department had told The Daily Dot while there's no official complaint of abuse filed regarding the incident, an investigator was already looking into the matter. "Needless to say, the description of the event is distressing and our Special Victims Unit and the commander of the LGBTQ Liaison Unit are aware of the existence of the video,” Chata Spikes, Director of Public Affairs of the Atlanta Police Department told the media.

According to the outlet Gaye who were allegedly contacted by the detectives on the case and contributed all information gathered on the boy's abuse in their coverage of the incident, Tyler has since been relocated. The update came at midnight on June 19, from trans activist and organizer Hope Giselle who took to Instagram Live to inform the public of the whereabouts and safety of the young boy. District 9 Atlanta City council candidate Devin Barrington Ward who attended the live with Giselle, told viewers that upon visiting the boy's residence (in Barrington Ward's corresponding district) they found the impoverished state they were living in, amidst systemic neglect.

Tyler and his family were provided with “toiletries and food”, and a tablet was given to the boy, which he was “very grateful for”, Barrington Ward told Giselle in her live.  As of the morning of June 20, based on what Tyler's mother told Barrington-Ward, DCFS removed the boy around midnight and an undisclosed court date has been reportedly set for the hearing, also at an unknown location.

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