He is black. The four men accused of beating him are Hispanic. Nassau County police say the four wanted Jackson to leave the front of the store.
Hispanic advocate Fernando Mateo told the crowd Saturday that "something terrible happened here, but we all know that it wasn't because of hate."
But the Rev. William Watson Jr. said that given the epithets, "what else can it be" but a hate crime.
Jackson has been recovering in the hospital with head injuries since he was beaten last Sunday.
Investigators believe the fight stemmed from Jackson loitering in front of the deli.
So far, the district attorney has charged those in the case only with assault.
NEW YORK AND TRI-STATE AREA NEWS
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