One Of Three Suspects In Beating Of Gay Man Arrested

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.

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.

Enraged gay rights activists vowed that justice would be served, and residents appealed for expanded police presence in their community. They have planned a rally outside the convenience store Saturday.

Devon Barrington Ward of Change Atlanta said the Jack City gang has no place in the Pittsburgh neighborhood.

"When I realized this was taking place in my own back yard, it was a gut-wrenching feeling," Ward said at Wednesday's news conference. "My brother was assaulted, so that means I was assaulted."

Ward said tougher laws are needed to make victims like White feel empowered to come forward. White's attackers, Ward said, are "cowards" who will be caught.

Pittsburgh community residents said the corner where White was attacked has been the scene of other acts of violence. They called for the JVC store to be shut down.

"Pittsburgh is not Jack City," said LaShawn M. Hoffman, head of the Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association.

He said he is alarmed by the fact that no one on that corner thought to call police while White was being beaten.

"This is not the norm for our neighborhood," he said.

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.


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