Police with Michigan’s Grand Rapids Police Department are declining to label the recent assault of a white male by a group of black men a hate crime after video of the encounter went viral this week.
Footage of the incident, which was captured shortly after 10pm on July 28 near Rosa Parks Circle, shows a black male pointing to an 18-year-old white male and ordering others to “sock that n*gga.”
“It almost appears like a game,” GRPD Capt. Matt Ostapowicz told 24 Hour News 8. “The one guy for whatever reason says, ‘Somebody hit him,’ and they did and everybody went crazy.”
According to reports, the unknown man, who claims to have had no previous contact with the group, suffered bruising, scrapes, cuts and a concussion after being thrown to the ground and kicked repeatedly.
“It turns into that mob mentality,” Ostapowicz said. “He [the victim] gets sucker punched, knocked down and, as you can see, several people start stomping on all different parts of his body. We’re very fortunate he didn’t get hurt worse than he was.”
Police say several suspects were identified within 24 hours of the video’s release after members of the community began sending tips to investigators.
While assault charges may be filed in the coming days, police say they are leaving it up to the prosecutor’s office on whether to charge the suspects with a hate crime.
The incident raises questions on what some call a double standard regarding the disproportionate application of hate crime laws.
Two black males who attacked a white train passenger for refusing to discuss the shooting of Mike Brown earlier this year in St. Louis were also let off without hate crime charges.
Several months earlier, St. Louis police also refused to file hate crime charges against a group of black males who killed a white Bosnian immigrant with a hammer while chanting,“f*ck the white people” and “kill the white people.”