Who is Matt Martel? White Georgia man attacks Black teen with belt for using profanity

'I was just panicked. I could not believe that in 2021 a fully grown man would think that it was OK to come outside with a belt,' the 15-year-old's mother said


                            Who is Matt Martel? White Georgia man attacks Black teen with belt for using profanity
A screengrab of the video showing the altercation between Matt Martel and 15-year-old Maliyk Sim (11Alive.com)

CARROLL COUNTY, GEORGIA: A White man has been arrested for allegedly attacking a Black teenager with a belt. The man faces charges of assault, battery, cruelty to children, and disorderly conduct.

Recent incidents of possible racially motivated harassment and crime that MEAWW has covered include the 'Victoria's Secret Karen', who went viral for throwing a tantrum after an attempted assault on a Black woman; a high school student who allegedly placed an Adolf Hitler quote under the pictures of other students in the yearbook among others.

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In Villa Rica, located near downtown Atlanta, the incident took place outside a home and was caught on video. It showed 15-year-old Maliyk Sim playing basketball with his cousins before he was attacked. Maliyk's mother Latika Sim said the incident happened in her sister's neighborhood. 

"I was just panicked. I could not believe that in 2021 a fully grown man would think that it was OK to come outside with a belt," said Latika. "When you see the video, he is running full speed at him and he's caught off guard.”

Who is Matt Martel?

The 29-year-old White male, as per his statement to the police, said he was upset because the teenagers were using profanity. The video shows Martel grabbing the front of Maliyk's shirt before the pair go off-camera. Then one can hear a crash. "And he grabbed me with his hands around my neck. He threw me up against a garage and I hit my head," said Malyik, who added that he was in shock, but knew he didn't want to get in trouble for fighting back.

"My son has played football, he has played every sport, he is fully capable of defending himself. But he knew he could not defend himself. So he walked away. He walked away and still this man is chasing him with a belt. So now I am in a full panic because my kids are unprotected," said Latika. 

Following the incident, Latika rushed to call the police. "I have worked in child care for 15 years. I have had kids say crazy things to me, I have had them hit me, I have never once thought, let me take my belt off, and beat someone else's kid. So even when he's saying he heard my son say a curse word, I do not care.”

She also said that she wished her neighbors would have called her if they were concerned about her son's language, or talked to another family member. "Everybody else's kids are outside playing, so why can't my kids go outside and play, too," she said, adding there was no excuse for violence. 

A hate-crimes law was passed in Georgia last year with bipartisan support. It was signed by Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, in June 2020. Before that, Georgia was one of the few states without a hate-crime law. The law allows for extra penalties to be applied for crimes motivated by a victim’s race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, or disability.