Public pressure has prompted a federal investigation into an attack on members of a white family who stopped for fuel on Mother’s Day in Baton Rouge, La., and were told they were “in the wrong neighborhood.”
As WND reported, the mother, father and daughter were beaten viciously, allegedly by a gang of blacks, for stopping at the fuel station.
One of the victims said, “This was absolutely a targeted attack due to the color of our skin.”
Once Baton Rouge police started looking into the case, they asked the FBI about possible hate crime charges.
Authorities allege 41-year-old Donald Ray Dickerson is responsible for initiating the attack. However, New Orleans criminal defense attorney Elizabeth B. Carpenter told WND that two additional suspects could be charged with a hate crime.
“When the suspects go to court the district attorney’s office will have the power to add the additional offense of 14:107.2(B) if it chooses,” she said.
When the incident was reported, a number of members of the public asked why hate crimes charges were not filed. That reporting and the public response appears to have had an impact.
Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie put out a statement, saying, “Over the past several days our department has been the target of some criticism and frustration by people who questioned our handling of a brutal attack on a family in our city last weekend.
“So at my direction our detectives have extensively re-interviewed the victims and several witnesses and reviewed all available evidence.”
Dabadie said his department also reached out to the FBI to see if federal hate crimes charges might be applicable.
“FBI agents have accompanied our detectives and actively participated in interviews of the victims and witnesses,” he said.
Eric Holder’s Department of Justice oversees the FBI. In 2009, Holder admitted before a Senate committee that white people and ministers would not be protected by proposed hate crimes statutes.
His department’s civil rights division also has held an antipathy to using rights laws to protect whites, according to a former member of the agency.
The Baton Rouge incident began when the unnamed father and his family pulled into a gas station to refuel. As the man was pumping gas, he was confronted, allegedly by Donald Ray Dickerson. According to the affidavit of probable cause, the victim reported that “the defendant told him he was in the wrong neighborhood and he was not going to make it out.”
He was beaten to the ground and knocked unconscious, and when his wife left the car and came to his defense, she was beaten unconscious as well. The couple’s 14-year-old daughter was also attacked when she tried to protect her parents.
The police handling of the Baton Rouge attack was criticized because the department did not discuss the possibility of hate crimes charges until after a public furor. Additionally, two suspects were released with a summons to appear later in court.
“That was a mistake and an error of judgment,” the police chief said.
The two people who allegedly helped Dickerson attack the family, Devin Bessye, 24, and Ashley Simmons, 22, are alleged to have struck the man’s wife and 14-year-old daughter.
The police affidavit states “both co-defendants were released with a summons for Simple Battery.”
Under Louisiana’s hate crimes statute, it is unlawful to select a victim for certain offenses, such as battery, “because of actual or perceived race, age, gender, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry.”
Dickerson, the main alleged attacker, reportedly is a registered sex offender. He has now been charged with failing to register his new address under sex-offender status.