- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 29, 2010

THE WASHINGTON TIMES

A black Florida juvenile faces hate-crimes charges in a gang attack that police say he committed because the victim was listening to rap music and white people “shouldn’t be listening to rap music.”

Palm Bay police said the suspect, a 14-year-old who was part of a group of black youths, assaulted 22-year-old David McKnight earlier this week after confronting him while he was sitting on a sidewalk listening to “Wasted” by rapper Gucci Mane on his boombox.

“The defendant told the victim he is white and he shouldn’t be listening to rap music,” reads the juvenile arrest report by the Palm Bay Police Department, which was posted on Smoking Gun website Wednesday.

“I feel it’s a racial thing really,” Mr. McKnight told Orlando TV station WFTV in an interview.

The suspect was not identified in police reports, but several Florida media outlets have identified him as Joshuah Lamb.

After Mr. McKnight said he could listen to whatever he wanted, the suspect “repeatedly” punched him in the face, according to the police report.

“I told him to drop it. I was like, ‘Just drop it, let’s go, there is eight of you and one of me. Just drop it.’ And he says, ‘I’m not dropping anything.’ Bam! Punched me,” Mr. McKnight told the TV station, adding that he did not fight back.

“I couldn’t get away fast enough, let’s just put it that way. Then one of them spit on me, punched me, knocked me down, got a couple of kicks in from a couple of them,” he said.

Mr. McKnight told the TV station he suffered a broken toe, a concussion, a swollen eye and strangulation marks around his neck.

When police confronted the attacker at the scene, authorities said, Mr. Lamb gave a fake name until his mother showed up at the scene and she gave the arresting officer his real name. Mr. Lamb was booked into a juvenile facility in Brevard County on misdemeanor-battery and false-identification charges.

However, police later told reporters in Florida that the racial motivation behind the attack may make it a felony, rather than a misdemeanor assault. The state attorney’s office will reportedly decide whether to file hate-crime charges in two weeks or less.

“Based on the circumstances of this case, I believe this meets the circumstance for enhancement under ‘evidencing prejudice while committing another crime,’ ” a reference to Florida’s hate-crime law, the report says.

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