It was as plain as black and white. It was a hate crime.
When 30 black teenagers from Marine Park Middle School, most of them girls, chased five white girls from St. Edmund’s off a Marine Park basketball court and across a Brooklyn street—punching, kicking, slapping, pulling hair and screaming, “honky bitches,” “black power” and “white crackers”—it was a racial attack.
It was about hate.
But it took authorities three weeks to bring in the bias crime unit to investigate and elevate the charges to hate crime status. And to arrest three more alleged culprits. And to offer a reward for information on the rest of the mob of black teens.
And now noted attorney Stephen Murphy and associate Daniel Russo have been retained by the families of the victims to initiate a civil suit against the city and the Department of Education.
“I’ve seen race from both sides in this city,” Murphy says. “I’ve caught white cops lying on the stand about innocent black guys from the projects. No matter who’s doing the hating, it’s ugly. In this case, it’s clear these five white girls were singled out because of the color of their skin, and the police brass at the 63rd Precinct ignored all the evidence.”
Says Russo: “We’re investigating whether the Marine Park Middle School followed the proper guidelines of the rules of dismissal of their students that day. And the city didn’t offer protection in the park, where not a single cop was on duty that day.”
Joanne Eisen, mother of one of the victims, is a social worker who works in the criminal justice system.
“My job as a social worker is to protect people from discrimination, oppression and poverty,” she says. “But now my own child is the victim of discrimination and racism, and I want those responsible to know there are consequences. After this happened, it took a bunch of the moms two full weeks to even get an audience with Deputy Inspector Kevin McGinn at the 63rd Precinct. But no matter what we told him, no matter how much eyewitness evidence we presented, he said he would not elevate these charges to racial hate crime status.”
Unknown to McGinn or the parents, however, detectives from the bias crime unit had begun an investigation of the attack on April 1. Three more arrests were made and the charges were upgraded to hate crimes by the city’s corporation counsel at the arraignment.