ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – When Barry Henry left True Holiness Cathedral on Sunday, he and his family walked through downtown St. Petersburg back to their car.
Barry, 14, was with his grandmother and his cousin, Daymond Mabry.
The teen’s mother tells 8 On Your Side her son stopped briefly at a FedEx store after church to drop off some documents for his grandmother. When he walked outside, he pulled out a piece of gum and opened it.
As he was walking toward the car, where he says his grandmother was waiting, he tossed the silver gum wrapper on the ground.
After Barry’s grandmother yelled for him to pick it up, he claims a woman began yelling at him and calling him racial slurs. His cousin Daymond pulled out a cell phone and began recording.
The video, posted to Facebook by Barry’s sister, has since gone viral. Deysha Henry, 24, still can’t believe how many people have reacted to the post.
“I never in a million years expected this kind of reaction. I thought my friends would see it,” Deysha explained. “It’s definitely a crazy world. I think that woman was already upset about something else and just a reason to act out, like go from zero to ten. People feel bad for my brother. Yes, he was wrong for dropping a gum wrapper on the ground, but it did not warrant her response. He was going to pick it up, my grandmother told him to pick it up, but as soon as the woman started yelling, my grandmother said, ‘let’s go.'”
The woman, who has yet to be identified, can be heard in the video yelling at Barry.
“Don’t even act like that. Pick it up! Find it. Get down on your knees and find it,” she yelled in the video. “No count, little n****r. That’s how you are, all y’all – no count f*****g n*****s.”
When she noticed Barry’s cousin recording the incident, she could be heard yelling out to him, “Film me, f****r, film me.”
Tykeshia Henry-Burch, the teen’s mother, says she was “in disbelief” when she saw the video. She explained how her son came home from church and told her he needed to show her a video.
“Barry is a jokester, so when he came home from church, and he said, ‘Mom, I have a video to show you,’ I was like, I don’t want to see it. He shows me stuff all the time,” she said.
But her son persisted.
“He was like, ‘No, mom. You need to look at this.’ So, when I looked at it, I was like, is this fake? I literally thought it was fake. Then, I looked at it, and I looked at it again,” she said.
The teen’s mother was shocked.
“I was livid. I called my mom because he was with my mom. I said, ‘Did this really happen?’ and she said, ‘Yes,'” Henry-Burch said, explaining how her mother told Barry to get in the car. “She told him, ‘Let’s go, we’re not confrontational. She needs prayer.'”
As for Barry, he was stunned that a stranger would call him racist names and yell at him.
“He told me it hurt him and that he felt, well he said to me, ‘I feel traumatized, mom,'” Barry’s mother said. “I was like, I’ve never taught my children to look at the color of anyone’s skin. Ever. We like people for who they are. We’ve never had any issues. It was very traumatizing.”
The teen’s mom also has a message for the woman who yelled at her son.
“I would tell her she needs to seek help, she has serious issues,” she said. “She needs to watch what she says to people.”
“It made me feel like nothing mattered, and she just, she didn’t care. Anybody could just say anything,” Barry told 8 On Your Side.
The video posted on Facebook by Barry’s sister has been viewed thousands of times. Countless messages have been posted.
Some people have raised the question of the teen littering on the streets of St. Petersburg. Barry’s mother addressed the issue head-on, saying she was upset with him for doing it but horrified by the response it garnered from a stranger.
“He knows better than that and I told him, I talked to him about that. I said, ‘Why did you throw that gum wrapper, why did you do that? It was so small.’ I told him he should have picked up the gum wrapper. You don’t litter! And he said, ‘I didn’t even think about it, mom. I was just walking, and it was just a little silver wrapper. I just threw it down,'” his mother said. “I said to him, ‘Don’t ever litter. You just don’t do that because we want to keep our communities clean.’ He should not have littered. Trust me, he understands that.”
According to Barry’s sister, St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell contacted the family, wanting to honor the teen and his cousin for their calm reaction to the woman’s anger.
“He called and asked if he could take the boys to the Rays’ playoff game (Monday) but they had school,” Deysha told us. “He was completely apologetic about what happened and wanted to thank them for their politeness.”