Police have arrested a 16-year-old in connection with a mob attack by large numbers of black teenagers against a young white couple in a car, a case which has sparked national outrage.
As WND reported in a story posted on the popular Drudge Report, the couple was pummeled April 14 by dozens of black teens, and the Virginian-Pilot newspaper did not report the incident for two weeks, despite the fact the victims, Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami, are both news reporters for the paper.
Police arrested the suspect this morning, but authorities will not release his name due to his age. According to the Virginian-Pilot, he has been charged with throwing a missile at a vehicle, a felony, as well as two counts of simple assault by mob, destruction of property and participation in a riot, all misdemeanors.
The attack was first reported in an opinion piece by columnist Michelle Washington.
“Wave after wave of young men surged forward to take turns punching and kicking their victim,” Washington wrote, describing the onslaught that began when Dave Forster and Marjon Rostami stopped at a traffic light while driving home from a show on a Saturday night. A crowd of at least 100 black young people was on the sidewalk at the time.
“Rostami locked her car door. Someone threw a rock at her window. Forster got out to confront the rock-thrower, and that’s when the beating began. …
“The victim’s friend, a young woman, tried to pull him back into his car. Attackers came after her, pulling her hair, punching her head and causing a bloody scratch to the surface of her eye. She called 911. A recording told her all lines were busy. She called again. Busy. On her third try, she got through and, hysterical, could scream only their location. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. Church and Brambleton. It happened four blocks from where they work, here at the Virginian-Pilot.”
Washington said neither suffered grave injuries, but both were out of work for a week. Forster’s torso ached from blows to his ribs, and he retained a thumb-sized bump on his head. Rostami reportedly fears to be alone in her home, while Forster wishes he’d stayed in the car.
Pilot editor Denis Finley addressed the paper’s decision not to cover the attack in a front-page column today.
“Some have assumed the worst and accused The Pilot of everything from liberal hand-wringing to outright lying about the incident,” he wrote. “We did not cover up anything. What would we gain by protecting some thugs who beat up two of our reporters? The accusation is ludicrous.
“We bend over backward to treat ourselves the same way we would treat any other member of the community. In fact, we go overboard at times to make sure there is no perception that we have treated ourselves favorably. Based on the facts, this story did not cross the bar to be published because as a general rule, The Pilot doesn’t publish stories about simple assaults.”
In her column about the assault, Washington said the day after the beatings, Forster searched Twitter for mention of the attack, and one post in particular chilled him.
“I feel for the white man who got beat up at the light,” wrote one person.
“I don’t,” wrote another, indicating laughter. “(do it for trayvon martin)”
Trayvon Martin is the unarmed black teen who died after being shot by a community-watch captain with white and Hispanic parents, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Fla., sparking a wave of outrage long after the incident.
But at a press conference today, interim Norfolk Police Chief Sharon Chamberlin said the department is not investigating the case as a hate crime.
“At no time in our investigation or in statements taken from the victims did it appear this assault was racially motivated,” she said.
Just yesterday, a police spokesman told WND authorities were not sure if the attack was racially motivated.
“Could it have been? Yeah, it could have, I guess,” said police spokesman Chris Amos. “We certainly haven’t ruled that out, but we haven’t seen anything that jumps out at us other than someone throwing a rock at someone’s car.”
“A whole lot of racial implications have been made. We don’t know the motive of this. Race didn’t become a factor until Twitter comments later. No one at the scene said it was racially motivated. They didn’t tell us then and they didn’t hear any [comments such as] ‘Remember Trayvon Martin.’”
Rostami estimated there were around 100 people in the crowd, with about 30 near their car.
However, Chamberlin said police think only a few people in the crowd participated in the attack.
“It is important to clarify that 30 people did not carry out the assault,” she said. “There was a large group in the vicinity, but our investigation and the statements of the victims show that no more than a handful of people were involved.”
She said the crowd had emerged from three entertainment venues around the same time on the night of the attack.
“This is a situation where you had a whole bunch of events let out all at once, you had a lot of people on the street, you had an assault occur and that was isolated with a small number of people,” Chamberlin said. “The streets of Norfolk are safe. We are a vibrant city, we are growing, we are changing each and every day and citizens should not judge our streets in light of this particular thing.”
The police investigation is continuing. Amos told WND suspects are “facing felony charges, if we can find them and identify and if our victims can identify them.”