Native American brothers from the Mohawk tribe, Thomas Kanewakeron Gray (19) and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray (17), saved up money and took a seven hour drive from Santa Cruz, New Mexico to Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado for a campus tour. The two, who were wearing Cattle Decapitation and Archspire merch, were then taken off the tour after a woman called 911 on them because of their appearance.
According to the New York Times, the woman said they were “definitely not” part of the tour, and that their clothing was representing some “dark stuff.” She also claimed that the brothers were lying about their names and what they were interested in studying, before saying “it’s probably nothing” and that “if it’s nothing, I’m sorry, but it actually made me like feel sick and I’ve never felt like that.” This resulted in police showing up and removing the young men, while their tour moved on without them. After being unable to rejoin the tour, they ended up driving all the way home.
The president of of the university, Dr. Tony Frank issued a lengthy statement, which in part said:
“Two young men, through no fault of their own, wound up frightened and humiliated because another campus visitor was concerned about their clothes and overall demeanor, which appears to have simply been shyness. The very idea that someone – anyone – might “look” like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema. People of all races, gender identities, orientations, cultures, religions, heritages, and appearances belong here. As long as you want to earn a great education surrounded by people with the same goal who come from every part of our state, our country, and our world, then you belong here. And if you’re uncomfortable with a diverse and inclusive academic environment, then you probably have a better fit elsewhere.”
The boys’ mother Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray offered a statement to the Denver Post:
“Apparently, a parent on the tour called police because they were too quiet. That made them suspicious. They were trying to listen. Why should it be a crime to listen and not engage in a conversation?”
She also told Denver 10 the following:
“I was shocked. I was like, ‘What are you talking about? That doesn’t even make sense. All because some biased person judged my boys on how they looked.”
Cattle Decapitation responded by offering the brothers a spot on their guest list for life. Thomas Gray has since replied to the band’s post as well:
“Thank you everyone for the support. We love everyone. Its really hard to come up with a proper reaction to everyones help. Its very overwhelming but nonetheless, i hope this teaches a lesson to everyone that is going through any sort of discrimination or racial acts. Keep yourself going. What happened was wrong in so many ways and we wish this on no one else.”
Archspire also offered their thoughts on the situation:
The fundamental weight of this story should focus more heavily on calling out the individual that committed this bigotry and less attention on how the college compensated the victims.
Attempting to switch the gears of this conversation from what’s important to how gracious this college was for coming to immediate action is quite simply a misdirection.
Let’s focus less on how “gracious” the college was for quickly remedying this very common discriminatory occurrence and focus more on how we can help solve this recurring and problematic social ignorance.
I understand that with a lack of travel and/or a lack of diversity in your own day to day life experience, one might create a kind of social bubble where it becomes perpetually easier to disassociate yourself with cultures and styles of art simply because they contradict your own.
So, rather than focusing on these two young brothers who are not only deserving of but also entitled to both apology and compensation, I invite the mother referenced in this article, along with her family, to come to our next show in Colorado, free of charge to observe first hand just how positive, accepting and overall uplifting the “threatening” lifestyle that these innocent brothers freely and publicly represent, actually is.
With any hope, seeing the unity and undeniable joy that’s brought into the lives of these young music and art enthusiasts, might change her bias opinion about who they really are at their core.”
The brothers are expected to get a refund and a free private tour.