Silverback Mountain Gorilla, Democratic Republic of Congo

The death of Harambe, the gorilla killed at the Cincinnati Zoo over the weekend, has caused quite a stir around the country.

Ever since news broke that a 4-year-old boy fell 15 feet into the enclosure of a Silverback gorilla (causing the zoo to shoot and kill the animal) everyone had an opinion about the situation. The topics of bad parenting, animal rights, and child protection have already come to the forefront, but now the mother of all issues is rearing its ugly head: race.

It’s been revealed that the parents of the boy are African-American and the father has a long criminal history. According to reportsMichelle Gregg and Deonne Dickerson have four children together and Dickerson’s rap sheet is pretty extensive.

His criminal past includes charges like burglary, drug trafficking, criminal trespass, firearms offenses, disorderly conduct, and kidnap. Back in 2006, Dickerson was sentenced to one year behind bars for a drug trafficking conviction.

Michelle Gregg, who bore the brunt of most of the criticism as the child’s mother, works as the administrator at a Cincinnati pre-school. Prior to the parents’ race being identified, social media assumed that the mom of the little boy, heard yelling in the video of the incident, was White. Shade was definitely thrown:

Harambe is now the face of a social media movement, which spawned an online petition called “Justice for Harambe.” It is not only seeking justice for the slain gorilla, but wants the boy’s parents charged.

The petition reads:

“We the undersigned feel the child’s safety is paramount in this situation. We believe that this negligence may be reflective of the child’s home situation. We the undersigned actively encourage an investigation of the child’s home environment in the interests of protecting the child and his siblings from further incidents of parental negligence that may result in serious bodily harm or even death. Please sign this petition to encourage the Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services, and Cincinnati Police Department hold the parents responsible.”

Despite all of the controversy surrounding Harambe, Michelle Gregg took to Facebook over the weekend to defend herself and admit that mistakes happen, writing that society is “quick to judge how a parent could take their eyes off of their child and if anyone knows me I keep a tight watch on my kids.”

The young boy, whose name has not been revealed, was released from Cincinnati Hospital Medical Center on Saturday night and is doing well, Cincinnatti.com reports. His family thanked zoo staff for their quick action in a statement released through Gail Myers Public Relations LLC:

“We extend our heartfelt thanks for the quick action by the Cincinnati Zoo staff. We know that this was a very difficult decision for them, and that they are grieving the loss of their gorilla.”

As of now, the Justice For Harambe petition has garnered over 300,000 signatures.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Rolling Out, Cincinnatti.com | PHOTO CREDIT: Twitter 

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