Hate Crime? White Man Beaten Into Critical Condition Over Racial Slurs

April 25, 2012  |  

Roughly 20 black men, women, and children are said to have been involved in a brutal beat down that occurred in Mobile, AL, Saturday and left the man seen here, Matthew Owens, in critical condition. Four days later, the circumstances surrounding the altercation are still a bit fuzzy.

Many reports on the attack have labelled it a hate crime while others have called it retaliation for Trayvon Martin since one of the men involved in the fight was heard saying, “Now that’s justice for Trayvon” when the beating ended. Mobile’s mayor Sam Jones says that quote has been blown out of proportion and new details suggest that Owens may have actually been the original aggressor in the altercation. One person told WPMI that Owens was spewing racial slurs at people on a basketball court and even pulled out two kitchen knives. Another witness quoted him as saying:

 “He’s going to lynch all the black kids, he hates black n***ers, he hates that we moved on this street.”

It’s these new details that have stopped investigators from looking into this beating as a hate crime, Mayor Jones says.

“Wait for the facts as far as we’re concerned right now,” he told Fox 10. “But, I would caution people to not jump to conclusions right now. This is really very divisive in communities throughout the country, and I don’t think we have any reason to be divisive here because I don’t see any evidence of that.”

Though Owens is awake now and says he doesn’t know why he was attacked, at the time, he was left unconscious with bleeding on his brain after the fight and witnesses say he was beaten with bricks, bats, and cans of paint by the mob. His wrap sheet doesn’t do much to clear claims that he may have been the aggressor in the case. He’s been booked on charges of assault, domestic violence, harassment and public intoxication in the past.  Despite whatever motivation may have led up to the incident, the brutality of the attack is rather extreme. Still, no one has been arrested thus far.

What do you think about this situation?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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