Police are investigating the “racially motivated” beating of a 27-year-old man who was walking home from midtown bars early Saturday when he said he was jumped by five to eight men who shouted “Trayvon” before the attack.
The exclamation was an apparent reference to Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami who was shot and killed in February walking back to his father’s girlfriend’s house in Sanford.
His shooter, George Zimmerman, has not been charged.
The case of Martin, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by Zimmerman, a Hispanic crime-watch volunteer, has stirred conversations across the country about race, crime and profiling.
Investigators believe that case was the catalyst for the beating Saturday in Gainesville.
“We do believe that the crime was racially motivated,” Gainesville Police Department spokeswoman Cpl. Angelina Valuri said.
The assailants were black, while the victim is white, Valuri said.
She said the victim had been drinking and could not provide a description of the attackers or their vehicle, only that it was a mid-size vehicle.
But Valuri said his injuries were consistent with being jumped by a group.
During what he told police was a five-minute beating, he sustained injuries to the left eye, abrasions to his palms and a cut on his right kneecap, and Valuri said he would likely have “permanent disfigurement to the left side of his face.”
He was taken to Shands at the University of Florida for treatment.
The attack occurred at about 2:45 a.m. in the 3200 block of Southwest 23rd Terrace.
The victim told police that a vehicle was coming east on Southwest 32nd Place when it stopped at 23rd Terrace.
A group of men got out and told him he was walking too slowly, the victim told police.
They then yelled “Trayvon,” according to a GPD report, and proceeded to beat him.
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