A Wednesday afternoon at Union Square chess tables turned violent as LaShawn Martin allegedly assaulted Jeffrey Babbitt after saying something to the effect of, "The next white person that bumps into me without saying excuse me, I'm going to knock him out." Martin committed a hate crime and this case and many like it committed recently in the city deserve more attention as racial tensions grow not just in New York City, but the country as well.
Jeffrey Babbitt was the lone caretaker of his 94-year-old mother, and out to pick up a copy of "The Art of Grimm Fairy Tales,” at a comic book store, the Forbidden Planet when he was allegedly assaulted by Martin. Martin according to witnesses had been yelling of his hatred for white people, and what might befall the next one he saw, before the next white person he saw was Babbitt. Martin struck Babbitt in the face causing him to fall and hit his head on the pavement. Initially conscious he was taken to the hospital where he would slip into a coma before and later being declared brain dead. A retiree struck dead in a crowded park because of his skin color.
NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has stated that the police are investigating this as a possible hate crime. The State of New York's penal code describes a hate crime as intentionally selecting a victim because of race or color among a list of other possible discriminatory categories. It appears obvious that based on the testimony delivered to witnesses early on that Babbitt was specifically sought out because of his race. This appears to be along the lines of what constitutes a hate crime in New York State.
New York City had another attack where race seems to have played a major part as a man was called a "cracker" before being knocked to the ground and beaten by a black man in Queens. This on the heels of the Delbert Belton murder, where a WWII veteran was beaten death by flashlights by two black teenagers, which came on the heels of the Chris Lane slaying. The Chris Lane murder having happened when an Australian student out for a jog was killed and one of the killers had a history of making statements that consistently boasted of his hatred for white people.
If we are going to have this national discussion on race, that President Obama wanted following the acquittal of George Zimmerman, we must conquer the narrative that hate crimes and prejudice only come from one direction. I think we owe it to Jeffrey Babbitt, Delbert Belton, and Chris Lane to make sure this conversation covers everything, and not just the aspects that the media can sensationalize make a national story. Racism and hate crimes can come from anyone, and it's about time we started treating them as such.