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Collierville mayor apologizes for teens’ racist vandalism

Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner (left) addresses pastor Jason Mitchell.

COLLIERVILLE, Tenn. — Mayor Stan Joyner took the unusual step of apologizing to a local pastor on behalf of his community after two teenagers vandalized his vehicle with racial slurs.

On Sunday, Memphis pastor Jason Mitchell was at a pickup basketball game at Collierville High School on Sunday night when the words “F___ N____” was painted on the back of his vehicle. Police said there was a related vehicle vandalism nearby.

Two teens — a 13-year-old Collierville Middle School 8th grader and a 14-year-old Collierville High School freshman, Joyner said — were arrested Tuesday and charged through the juvenile system with vandalism and civil rights intimidation.

“This is an appalling and offensive display of ignorance, It is an affront to the Collierville that we know and love and it is alien to the community that I grew up in,” Joyner said in a statement at City Hall.

“This does not reflect on the way we want Collierville to be perceived.”

Mitchell also spoke at the event, saying that, while the actions of the teens were not acceptable, he hoped the incident could be used to create something positive in Collierville.

“I want to make it known that I forgive those two men for what they did,” he said.

Mitchell praised Joyner, who is white, for coming forward to denounce the act and the city’s plan to educate young people on racism and address the issue in his city.

“We don’t want Collierville and Memphis to become the next city that has an act of hate, of terrorism, that stirs up a Civil War in this country,” Mitchell said.