- The Washington Times - Friday, June 20, 2003

Eighteen young people ages 9 to 15 have been charged with ethnic intimidation in connection with a May 1 attack on a white teenager in Cleveland, part of what the participants called “beat up a white kid day,” according to prosecutors.

“I have been looking into this urban legend about May Day and found nothing,” said Carmen Naso, supervisor of the Juvenile Justice Unit of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

He said the day was cited by several of the accused attackers as a factor in the attack.

“If there was a plan to do this, it would be real bad,” Mr. Naso said. Such a finding could lead to criminal conspiracy charges.

Ethnic intimidation is the state’s version of a hate-crimes law. The accused were also charged with felonious assault and aggravated riot. The charges were formally filed June 12 after an investigation by the Cleveland Police Department and the school district’s own security force.

The 18 teenagers charged — 11 black girls, five black boys, one Hispanic girl and one white girl — are accused of beating and kicking a 13-year-old white girl near a middle school in a low-income part of the city.

According to a witness statement, several of those charged in the crime blocked the view of police as the victim was beaten. School officials summoned police to the school prior to the incident based on rumors something would happen that day, Mr. Naso said.

“I got down to the end of the street and people were saying, ‘I hit her and got my stomp in,’” one attacker said. The victim was called “white trash,” according to the report.

The victim, who is now 14, was taken to a local hospital, treated for cuts and bruises and released. She returned to the hospital five days later with headaches and is still under medical care.

A family friend who answered the telephone at the victim’s house yesterday said the teenager was “doing well.”

Several of the accused perpetrators were students at the middle school, and received 10-day suspensions following the episode, which occurred after school as the victim walked home with two friends.

Calls to the Cleveland Municipal School District were not returned yesterday.

Only one of the 18 accused participants has a record, Mr. Naso said.

“Considering their histories, none of the charges warrant charging them as adults,” he said. The defendants are expected to have hearings within the next four weeks.

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