Were these just teens making bad decisions or was this a hate crime?
by Lisa Fogarty
How many times have you been stopped at a red light that turned green and have become frustrated by a pedestrian taking his time to cross the road? If you live in a city, it's something that happens on almost a daily basis. Chances are, you take a deep breath and leave it well enough alone. Or maybe you honk once and get a dirty look in return. Well, for one couple in Brooklyn, their reaction to this same situation made them victims of a brutal attack and has put them in the center of what some are calling a racial hate crime.
Ronald and Alana Russo, who are Caucasian, were driving by a popular mall in Brooklyn on an early Monday evening when they stopped at a traffic light. As the light turned green, a group of 10 African American teens, whose ages ranged from 12 to 18, were reportedly crossing the street. Because he figured he had the right of way, Ronald honked his horn, which reportedly spurred the teens to begin kicking the couple's car.
Ronald got out to assess the damage to the car -- a bold, but not totally crazy thing to do, particularly when you figure you're dealing with kids and what's the worst that can happen -- and then the worst happened. The teens punched and kicked Ronald in the head, leaving him with a fractured nose, broken septum, blood clot, and damage to his shoulder. They also reportedly called him a "white motherf****r" and shouted, "Get those crackers!" and "Get that white whore."
Not content to just brutally beat the man, his wife -- who was attempting to call 911 -- was dragged to the ground by the 12-year-old. Her head was slammed against the pavement and she suffered a black eye, bleeding, and difficulty breathing. Since the incident, four teens, including the 12-year-old, have been arrested and police are still searching for other suspects.
What terrifies me about this story, other than the fact that I still think of tweens as children who play with dolls and could never do anything like this, is that the couple wasn't in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were trying to get through a green light. They did something as harmless as honking a horn. Where did this anger come from and why direct it toward the couple at that time?
The fact that they beat the couple doesn't make it a hate crime, it just makes it a heinous, disgusting crime. But their racial slurs definitely, absolutely make this a hate crime, and I don't feel anyone will benefit from it being labeled as anything but.
What do you think? Were these just teens making bad decisions or was this a hate crime?