Police Commissioner Bealefeld: Downtown beating not a hate crime

Police chief warns of racial tensions over a he says was ‘drunken opportunistic criminality’

By Justin Fenton (The Baltimore Sun, 4/10/2012)

Baltimore’s top on Tuesday warned against “race-baiting” amid rising tensions across the nation, citing the Trayvon Martin case and cautioning that a video generating outrage on the Internet of a tourist being beaten and stripped in downtown Baltimore doesn’t appear to depict a hate crime.

Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III, appearing on WBAL’s C4 program, said the attack on a 31-year-old Arlington, Va. Caucasian man appears to be nothing beyond “drunken opportunistic criminality.” The comment came in response to a caller who said if the victim were African-American and the assailants white, civil rights leaders would be descending on Baltimore and the attackers would be charged with a hate crime.

Bealefeld, the white police commissioner of majority-black Baltimore, warned against “fear-mongering.”

“There’s no doubt it’s a crime. We need to vigorously hold criminals accountable, and we have to be careful not to be pulled into this race-baiting,” he said.

“I want to caution people, because, I think there will be ample national noise as we progress through the Trayvon Martin and the [Oklahoma shooting] cases,” Bealefeld continued. “As these things get going, I will urge caution of to distinguish between criminality and racially motivated crime.”

Continue reading at The Baltimore Sun.

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