We reported on 20-year-old Atlanta native Brandon White, whose vicious bashing at the hands of three men was captured on surveillance video in February. Now his attackers have been sentenced, but it seems like White is getting knocked around all over again.
Christopher Cain, Dorian Moragne and Dareal Demare Williams all plead guilty to attacking White as he approached a grocery store in Southwest Atlanta. The men, who all have previous records, punched and kicked White and hit him with a tire. In the video, which quickly went viral, they can be heard shouting “No faggots in Jack City,” as they kick White on the ground.
During yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Moragne apologized for his part in the crime, admitting the assault wasn’t just an attack on White, but “an attack on the gay community.” He also claimed he wasn’t homophobic, saying “I don’t hate nobody. I’ve got gay family.”
But almost from the start, members of Atlanta’s queer community were rallying to Moragne and Williams’ defense—first claiming White knew his attackers, and even suggesting he provoked the attack, and then asking Judge T. Jackson Bedford for probation rather than lengthy prison sentences for the two.
A group of local LGBT advocates signed a letter given to Bedford asking for leniency. In addition, one member, Xochitl Bervera said she had a “life plan” for Moragne and Williams to help them turn things around, including mentoring, employment skills and anger management.
Sounds like a good deal—how do we get in on it? Oh right, you have to pummel some brutally and call them names.
Another member of the group, Kung Li, said Judge Bedford should know not everyone wanted to her to lock the door on these young men and throw away the key. “When the case got so much publicity and then the presumption that the gay and lesbian community wanted them to serve long prison sentences … that is entirely false,” Li said.
Li and other advocates even organized a rally: We wanted [White] to know we loved him and we were impressed by his bravery. But homophobia is not helped by long-term prison sentences.”
But fear is one hell of a deterrent, no?
Examiner blogger Gregory Kelly was besides himself with frustration over the efforts on the men’s behalf:
Where is the loyalty to the LGBT community in Atlanta? First you have gay members of the community saying that the victim was not beaten because he was gay and now you have LGBT activists begging the court not to hand out precedent justice.
Maybe all this empathy comes from the fact that the criminals are black and young but so was the victim. When the convicted were beating Brandon White they did not scream a racial slur. They screamed the word “faggot” and that is clearly heard in the video.
When will people stop standing in the way of what is right? Why do we have LGBT activists, especially in Atlanta, showing their disloyalty to the community they serve? Empathy, mercy and leniency are given to the ones that deserves it.
These activists and representatives should stop being political opportunists and see that a healing in Atlanta’s gay community is needed. Justice is not the enemy of forgiveness.
We gotta say, he makes a good case.
In the end, all three men were sentenced this afternoon to five years behind bars and five years probation for two counts each of aggravated assault, robbery by force and participation in criminal street gang activity.
At sentencing, Bedford brushed away the idea that this was anything less than a hate crime deserving of swift and sure punishment, calling Williams, Cain and Moragne “the ultimate bullies.”