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‘Love March’ Planned After Racial Slurs Hurled at Grass Valley Teen

GRASS VALLEY -- A walk home from an after-school job and hostile words shouted from an open car window brought 16-year-old Imani Walker face-to-face with hate in his hometown.

"One loud shout from one person of the N-word," he said, describing what he heard.

As he walked up Grass Valley's Mill Street toward Main on Tuesday, Imani says a beat-up sedan slowed down next to him and the three young white men inside continued their taunts.

"Throwing racial slurs and saying just 'F-you' and 'hey little N-word, come over here,'" he said.

When they finally turned on Main and sped off, he called his mom, rattled.

"Felt like that rush of heat just come over me, going into that fight or flight mode," he said.

"I couldn't, I felt like I couldn't even breathe. I was so upset," Denise Walker said.

Shortly after hearing about what happened, Imani's father grabbed his cell phone and turned to Facebook Live to express his outrage, disappointment and the need for people in the town where he fell in love with his wife, started a family and manages a business to be the better selves he's seen over most of his years there.

That video has now been viewed more than 25,000 times.

"What people don't understand is when you've had this happen repeatedly, it's not an isolated incident to you anymore.  It's a continuous movie being played out," said Jamal Walker.

His son has experienced racial taunting off and on since the first grade.

"Our current political climate certainly has made it more permissive for people to behave this way," said Jamal Walker.

"We live in a culture that's desperately trying to act as if racism doesn't exist anymore," he said.

Despite what the Walkers have faced in town from time to time, they love their community and believe most people are not biased and don't want to see that in Grass Valley.

Still, seeing no one else react to loud, ugly shouts in the middle of a crowded street, Imani was left discouraged.

"After it happened, I started to feel a little less self value... I was alone in that," he said.

But thanks to his Dad's post, Grass Valley is proving that Imani is not alone and that are many people who won't tolerate what happened.

When FOX40 visited, a man stopped Imani in a parking lot to shake his hand and tell him he was sorry about what happened.

Now people in the community the family doesn't know have planned a Love March in town for Friday at 5 p.m. to show racism has no place there.

They'll walk the same street where Imani was verbally harassed.

With time to think about what's happened and how Grass Valley is rallying behind him, what does Imani have to say to those who shouted slurs at him?

"You're a joke. You're a joke. You did what you did for no reason and it will come back on you. You're a joke."

Grass Valley police have asked the Walkers if they wanted to file a police report about Tuesday's incident and start the kind of investigation that could pull surveillance from businesses in the area.

Denise and Jamal Walker say that's all up to Imani.

He's soaking in the support pouring in from around town and still considering how he wants to proceed.