Leaders disagree on LI bat attack

November 22, 2010 1:06:40 PM PST
New York Hispanic leaders are taking issue with some African-American leaders Wednesday over a baseball bat attack on a black man. The Hispanic leaders are insisting the violence was not a bias crime, even though the victim says the attackers used racial slurs.

The four men charged are all hispanics, and three of them brothers. The fourth was an off duty New York City cop.

The district attorney sent a top representative to visit the victim In the hospital and says they are doing what they can within legal limits to prosecute this as a hate crime, even though the law doesn't classify it as one.

But on Wednesday, the Hispanic community said there is a misunderstanding here, calling it a simple fight.

Free on bail, Kelvin Vargas held back tears while standing outside his family deli in Roosevelt. He was arrested there this week on assault charges and allegations he beat Darryl Jackson so bad that it put him in the hospital.

Witnesses say they heard racial epithets being hurled at Jackson. Among them, "Go back to Africa" and the N-word. Hispanics Across America rallied on Vargas' side Wednesday, to say that's not true and race wasn't a factor.

"It takes two to fight," association president Fernando Mateo said. "He asked the man to move. You wanna fight, and boom he struck him in the eye."

Police arrested Vargas, along with his two relatives and New York City police officer Juan Nunez. All are charged with assault for allegedly beating Jackson with not only their fists, but baseball bats, outside the deli Sunday morning.

It's not a hate crime, by law, because police believe the dispute started because Jackson was panhandling at the deli payphone.

But the victims family and friends insist Jackson was attacked for his race.

"If there's no bias or no issue why do you beat somebody and refer to them as the n word," said Fred Brewington.

After visiting Darryl Jackson Jr. and his father, the Nassau county District Attorneys office sent the a statement saying "The DA is going to explore every possible way to hold these defendants accountable for what they have done."

That goes against what police said in a news conference, earlier this week, that this wasn't a bias crime because Jackson's ethnicity didn't start the fight, but his loitering did ultimately ending in injuries so severe he can't do anything on his own right now.

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