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Attacks May be Racially Motivated, Tied to Anger Over Trayvon Martin

Police in Mobile, Ala., are investigating the beating of a white man who is in critical condition after being attacked by a group of African Americans.

The victim, Matthew Owens, had earlier argued with kids who were playing basketball in the street last Saturday night, police said. The youngsters left, but a group of adults returned and beat Owens with brass knuckles, paint cans, pipes and chairs.

Owens' sister, who witnessed the attack, said that about 20 people attacked Owens  on the front porch of his house. She said that as they left, one said, "Now that's justice for Trayvon."

In another incident, on April 17, an 18-year-old African-American man allegedly told police he beat up a white man in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park because he was angry about Trayvon Martin. According to police, Alton L. Hayes III and a 15-year-old boy walked up behind a 19-year-old white man and pinned his arms to his side. Hayes picked up a large tree branch, pointed it at the man, and told him to "empty your pockets, white boy." They allegedly rifled through the man's pockets, threw him to the ground and punched him several times in the head and back before they ran away. Hayes has been charged with attempted robbery, aggravated battery and a hate crime. The 15-year-old was referred to juvenile court.

Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot and killed February 26 as he walked through a gated community in Sanford, Fla., where he was staying and where the man who shot him, George Zimmerman, was a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman was arrested on April 11 and charged with second-degree murder. He pleaded not guilty and was released yesterday on $150,000 bail.

The fact that local police initially didn’t charge Zimmerman sparked a national outcry, and the resulting controversy has inflamed extremists, both black and white.

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