The mother of two teenagers, who were reported to police while taking a college campus tour, said the incident happened because of her sons’ race.
Monday, 19-year old Thomas Gray and 17-year old Lloyd Gray traveled to Colorado State University in Fort Collins from their home in northern New Mexico. The brothers, who are Native American, were both interested in attending CSU.
“I was nervous for them to get in our family car and drive seven hours to a place they’ve never been before, and find their way around,” said their mother, Lorraine Gray. “I felt so relieved when they texted me and said 'we’re here.'”
The Gray brothers joined a campus tour after it already started. According to CSU administrators, another parent on the tour became “nervous by the presence of two young men who joined the tour while it was in progress.”
When police arrived, officers spoke to the teens and realized they had done nothing wrong and were part of the tour. The siblings called their mother to let her know what happened. By that point, the tour group moved on without them.
“They said, ‘Well, should we go on another tour?’ And I said ‘No,’” Gray remembered saying. “I said, ‘You get in the car and you come home now.’”
In a letter to the campus community, CSU called the incident “sad and frustrating from nearly every angle, particularly the experience of two students who were here to see if this was a good fit for them as an institution.”
The university is working to review how it happened and avoid something like this happening in the future.
“They aren’t responsible for the woman who is prejudiced or whatever her values are, but they are responsible for how they reacted to her actions,” Gray said. She was also critical of the communication between police and the tour guide.
Gray said she believes her sons were targeted because of their race. She felt it was important to share their story.
“If you keep quiet about things they’re going to continue to happen,” she said. “It’s our responsibility to speak out and let other people know what’s happening.”