On Wednesday, Sept 23 at about 1:00 am, racial slurs were shouted as three men beat, robbed and stripped the clothing from Derrick Thomas (18), who is autistic. The three men were standing over Thomas, armed with an ax, brass knuckles and a gun. They beat and kicked the 18-year-old while screaming racial epithets, ordering him to strip naked. Then they robbed him of everything he had, including his Air Jordans, blue jeans and shirt. "They were saying stuff like, 'We hate the president; we're gonna kill the president, his wife and his kids,'" Thomas recalled, his left eye puffy and discolored. "They said every black person that comes through our park, we're gonna kick their butt. We don't like black people, period."
A little later that night, police caught the three perpetrators in the act of attacking a second black man -- Thomas' uncle -- just blocks away. Authorities filed assault and robbery charges against Anthony P. Kilpela and Bryan C. Westerlund, both 21, of Minneapolis. A week later, police arrested the third perp, Tyler Kai Ketz.
Both victims are black, the suspects are white, and authorities say both crimes are believed to be motivated by racial bias. The U.S. Secret Service is also investigating the men for allegedly threatening to kill the Obamas.
Usual Hate Crime Excuses:
Tania Kilpela looks down and shakes her head, her voice trembling when she talks about the accusations against her older brother, Tony. "He's not a bad person, and I'm just in shock. He's not like that at all," she said on the back patio of her south Minneapolis home Saturday. "We have foster cousins that are black. One of his best friends is black. Tony is very funny and very caring. It's all just not making sense to me."
Beaten, Robbed, a Victim of Hate
Third Man Arrested
Family Struggles with Accusations of Hate Crime