An African American teen in Brooklyn, N.Y., faces hate crime charges for allegedly taking part in a group beating of a white couple who stopped at a traffic light outside a shopping center last week.
But the teenager, 18-year-old college student Kashawn Kirton of Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood, says his arrest is a case of mistaken identity. One area resident interviewed by the New York Daily News dismissed the idea of a racial attack.
“It’s not just a black and white thing,” said the resident, who would not give his name to the paper. “It’s stupid teenagers thinking they can do whatever they want.”
Kirton (pictured), who was arrested moments after the attack outside a Lowe’s hardware store, told the Daily News he had nothing to do with it. Kirton has never been arrested before.
He says he was wearing clothing similar to that worn by one of the actual attackers, leading to his mistaken arrest. He is now free on $50,000 bond.
“I have relatives who are white,” Kirton, who is a freshman at St. Francis College, told the paper. “Cousins and stuff. My school is mainly white. More than half my friends are white. I wouldn’t use words like that.”
Kirton is also a prolific blogger, who writes about NBA basketball on his blog.
Three other teens were arrested in connection with the assault. Two are minors, including a 12-year-old girl. The other, Daehrell Finch, 17, of Gravesend, Brooklyn, has a prior criminal record, including assault charges. Finch is being held on $75,000 bond but is not facing hate crime charges.
Police are looking for six more suspects.
The incident took place last Monday at about 7 p.m. outside the Kings Plaza shopping center in Mill Basin. According to the Daily News account, Ronald Russo, 30, honked at a group of 10 kids who were crossing the street in front of him when he had a green light.
The teenagers responded by hitting and kicking his vehicle. Russo got out to check for dents and the youths attacked him. He was later treated at Beth Israel Hospital for a broken nose and other minor but frightening injuries.
Russo’s wife Alana, who was in the car with him, was also attacked. The 12-year-old girl pulled Alana’s hair and threw her to the ground. But she declined medical help despite suffering a black eye, the Daily News reported.
Throughout the attack, the youths reportedly shouted anti-white epithets, using such terms as “crackers,” “white whore,” and “white m*****f****r,” according to the newspaper.