Family says Virginia boy was victim of hate crime: ‘It felt like I lost my manhood’

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Posted at 11:43 AM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 11:43:39-04

RICHMOND, Va. – More than 100 activists and community members gathered in Richmond Sunday to call for “Justice for Jerry.”

The family of Jerry Chambers Jr. said he was assaulted and humiliated while unconscious at a party in September 2020 in Powhatan County when he was 16 years old.

He spoke publicly about the incident for the first time at the rally.

“Being a victim of a hate crime scars you for your life,” Chambers Jr. he told the crowd. “For me, it felt like I lost my manhood.”

Jerry Chambers
A photo shown at the "Justice for Jerry" rally.

The Chambers believe the incident was a hate crime as a graphic photo showed Jerry hunched over with racial slurs and a swastika drawn on his face. Another picture showed Jerry covered in a Confederate flag.

Jerry told the crowd that the trauma he experienced in the wake of what he said happened took him to a dark place.

“In February, I had a severe suicide attempt,” he said. “I was in the ICU for days, not even having the strength to get up and walk.”

Chambers Sr. said he was at a loss over the incident.

“To be a father and not able to do something about what they did to my son… no words,” he said.

Jerry Chambers
"Justice for Jerry" rally in Richmond

Officials with the Powhatan Sheriff’s Office said the Chambers family documented the incident to deputies on Sept. 14, 2020.

However, deputies claim the parents did not want to proceed with a criminal investigation at the time.

More than a year later, officials said the parents did want to file an official report in December 2021.

Deputies said they identified the suspects responsible but could not arrest them because of a Virginia code stating misdemeanor charges such as assault and battery must be placed within one year of the offense.

As a result, officials with the sheriff’s office said that to explore all options the case is now being investigated by FBI and a special prosecutor in Petersburg due to a conflict of interest in Powhatan.

Jerry Chambers

“Please continue to send support and help me seek justice,” Jerry said.

Activists and family members said more rallies are planned, including one Thursday at the Powhatan County Courthouse.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email to send a tip.