Police arrest suspect in videotaped beating of gay man
Atlanta (CNN) — One of three suspects in a videotaped beating of a gay man has been arrested, Atlanta police said Saturday.
Christopher Cain, 18, was taken into custody around midnight and charged with aggravated assault and robbery, said a statement from police spokesman Carlos Campos.
Three men were seen in the video shouting anti-gay slurs as they beat, punched and kicked Brandon White, 20. Police have identified two other suspects but they have not yet been arrested nor have their names been released.
White was attacked February 4 outside a convenience store in a working class neighborhood in southwest Atlanta.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed doubled to $10,000 a reward for information leading to arrests.
Meanwhile Saturday, community leaders and neighborhood residents rallied outside the convenience store in support of White.
“When you see something going wrong, you must do what you’re doing here today,’ said U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
White did not report the attack at first but stepped forward after a video went viral on the internet.
The video showed three men punching and kicking White after he stepped out of the JVC Grocery and Deli. The men, believed to be members of a gang called Jack City, yelled: “No f—-ts in Jack City.”
Later, the store’s surveillance video showed White, dressed in a purple shirt and black jeans with a cell phone to his left ear, exit the store along with another man. As soon as they stepped outside, White was accosted by his attackers.
The surveillance video captured eight men standing around watching, two of them with video cameras in hand. One man lunged at White with a tire in his hands.
“If a straight person can walk to the store, I should be able to do the same thing,” White said. “I could have died that day. They are monsters. At this point I am beyond mad.”
He said he could not at first even bring himself to watch the video; he was so humiliated and embarrassed.
But after its wide circulation, White decided to talk to the police.
“Once they put it out there they set themselves up,”said. “I feel I was violated. The scars run deeper than anyone will know. The physical pain, I can get over that. My thing is: Who’s to say they won’t come after me again? Who’s to say they won’t kill me?”
FBI agents are also investigating the case to determine whether it meets criteria for prosecution under the federal hate crimes statute. White said he could not comment on that aspect of the investigation.
U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said her office is looking into potential civil rights violations based on sexual orientation. Georgia does not have a state hate crimes statute.
“The actions depicted in the video are appalling and unacceptable in our community, and we encourage anyone with information about this video to contact the FBI or Atlanta Police,” Yates said.
Pittsburgh community residents said the corner where White was attacked is notorious for violence. They called for the JVC store to be shut down and asked for beefed up security.
Those who attended Saturday’s rally said it was up to everyone to make sure this kind of attack does not occur again.
“This is not a one day campaign. this is not a one week campiagn, this is a lifetime campaign,” said Cleta Winslow, an Atlanta City Council member.
Last year, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs released a study that showed that hate crimes committed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and HIV-affected people were on the rise in America.
In 2010, the coalition reported a 13% rise in LGBT hate crimes and documented 27 murders, a 23% increase from 2009.
State Rep. Simone Bell, who is openly gay, told CNN affiliate WSB TV that she hopes this case will pave the way for anti-hate crime legislation in Georgia.