ATLANTA (AP) — A 20-year-old Atlanta man who police say was pummeled by a group of men in an attack caught on video said Wednesday that he feared for his life and hopes the attackers are arrested soon.
Federal authorities have said they are investigating the Feb. 4 attack as a possible hate crime.
“I could have died that day, anyone could have died that day,” Brandon White said at a news conference Wednesday. “They’re monsters.”
The video shows three unidentified men pouncing on White as he walks out of a grocery store in the city’s Pittsburgh neighborhood south of downtown. They punch and kick him while gay slurs are heard. At one point, an attacker slams a tire onto White’s body.
White, who has not been back to the neighborhood, said he decided to come forward after learning the video had been uploaded to YouTube and was being viewed by thousands of people.
“I didn’t want to see it because it was embarrassing and humiliating,” he said.
Residents and community leaders plan a rally Saturday near the grocery store where the attack occurred, said Devin Barrington-Ward, a volunteer with Change Atlanta.
“When I realized this was taking place in my own backyard, it was a gut-wrenching feeling,” Barrington-Ward said. “We want to make sure that Georgia is an environment where hatred is not tolerated.”
White declined to discuss any injuries from the attack. He said he thinks the case should be prosecuted as a hate crime.
“I really want justice done,” he said. “I deserve it. Anyone that’s been through this, they deserve it.”
White, who said he had been living in the Pittsburgh neighborhood for the past eight months, encouraged others who have been attacked to speak out.
In addition to gay slurs, the video also includes references to Jack City, a local gang in the neighborhood.
“The Jack City boys have no place in the Pittsburgh community,” Barrington-Ward said. “They have no place in the city of Atlanta.”
Atlanta police said late Tuesday the department was working closely with the FBI to identify the suspects. A $5,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest.
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