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Brutal beating caught on tape; gay teen says assault was a hate crime

Sunday, April 17, 2011
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Joshua Esskew

Authorities in Rock Hill, S.C., are are looking for suspects who assaulted a gay teen outside a Rock Hill convenience store last weekend in what the victim describes as a hate crime.

Joshua Esskew, 19, who is gay, said he was walking into the store when a man shouted a gay slur at home. When Esskew walked away, that man hit him with a beer bottle in the back of the head.

Esskew tried to fight back, but more men — as many as eight — came running from different directions and beat him.

“Some ran from the gas pumps, some ran from the laundry mats, some were just standing over there and just joined,” Esskew said. “What instigated this and what started this was my sexuality, me just being me.”

Police found Esskew on the ground bleeding from the top of his head and mouth, and his eye and lips were swollen. The York County Sheriff’s Office has released this surveillance video of the attack.

South Carolina has no “hate crime” laws, but the federal government does. Deputies said they have to catch the suspects and investigate further before escalating it to the federal level.

Update, 4/18/11: The FBI has confirmed it is investigating the attack on Joshua Esskew. Story here.

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