Two African-American men from Atlanta plead guilty today to attacking a man outside of a store because he is gay. According to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division, Christopher Cain, 19, and Dorian Moragne, 20, admitted in federal court to “mercilessly” punching and kicking Brandon White, a black 20-year-old, while yelling anti-gay slurs at him. The beating was caught on video and posted to the Internet.
Cain and Moragne are already serving 10 years in state prison for the beating, but under the federal hate crime law – the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act – they will face additional time, although federal prosecutors are recommending the sentences be served concurrently.
“Hate-fueled violence will not be condoned,” said Roy L. Austin Jr., deputy assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department will use all the tools in our law enforcement arsenal to investigate and prosecute hate crimes.”
Community members from the Pittsburgh area of Atlanta publicly supported White, including Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association CEO LaShawn Hoffman. “No one called the police … [In the video] a MARTA bus passes, people walk down the street like this is the norm,” she said at a press conference. This is not the norm in our neighborhood and it has to stop.”
The victim, White, also spoke at the press conference saying that his “scars run deeper than anyone could know,” but that by standing up to his attackers that he is “the brave one.”
Civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) also spoke in support of White saying, “We must turn toward each other and not against each other. People must not be allowed to get away with beating an innocent young person, elderly person, or any human being.”