Atlanta beating victim speaks out: ‘I'm going to face it'

Brandon White said he wasn’t going to call police Saturday after he was attacked and beaten amid a hail of anti-gay slurs outside a southwest Atlanta neighborhood store.

But then he learned a video of his beating was posted online and had gone viral.

“At first I was embarrassed,” White said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference. “But if they are willing to put it out there, I’m going to face it.”

Separately, Mayor Kasim Reed’s office announced Wednesday that the city had doubled its award offer, to $10,000, for information to Atlanta Crime Stoppers leading to the arrest of those responsible for the beating. Also, Atlanta City Council member Cleta Winslow said she would donate $1,000 toward the award.

Anyone knowledgeable about the attack was asked to contact Crime Stoppers, 404-577-TIPS (577-8477).

White, 20, said he was still shaken by the violent gang assault Saturday that thrust his image into the national spotlight and became the center of the debate over crimes against gay men and women.

“I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder just because I’m gay,” he told a room filled with reporters. “Who’s to say they won’t try to come after me again? Who can say they won’t try to kill me?”

White wouldn't describe his injuries or elaborate Wednesday on what happened leading up to the attack. But he said he went home, packed and left the Pittsburgh home where he'd lived with friends for eight months.

"I haven't been back," he said.

White was lit upon by three members of the so-called 1029 Jack City Gang in broad daylight, punching him and kicking him repeatedly – one even slamming an abandoned tire onto his head while he was on the ground – while a fourth man videotaped the incident.

All the while, the men were calling him a derogatory name associated with gay men, and shouting that his kind wasn’t wanted around “Jack City.” No arrests have been made, but the FBI is working with Atlanta police to track down the three suspects seen in the video.

The attack has brought national attention and outrage, both from within the Pittsburgh neighborhood where the incident happened and from the national gay and lesbian community and federal law enforcement.

“The actions depicted in the video are appalling and unacceptable in our community,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said Monday in a statement, noting that federal authorities are considering lodging hate crime charges.

But Devin Barrington-Ward, an activist with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy organization Change Atlanta, said Georgia should have its own hate crime laws to prevent this sort of violence.

“Unfortunately, we need a teachable moment like this to enact legislation,” Barrington-Ward said. “I refuse to have another teachable moment.”

Contributing to the problem, community leaders say, is the grocery store – the so-called “pink” store at 1029 McDaniel Street – where even White acknowledged there is an ongoing safety problem.

“That community needs help, and it’s not just a gay and lesbian issue,” he said. “There have been a lot of things that have gone on in front of that store.”

At the press conference, community leaders apologized to White.

"The biggest problem we have about this is that no one thought to stop and call the police," said LaShawn Hoffman, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association president and CEO. "As if this is a norm. This is not the norm."

Wednesday morning, members of the Pittsburgh neighborhood said they want an end to gang violence in their neighborhood, and to the “pink store.”

And city officials plan to help.

“We’re going after the business to try to get it as nuisance abatement,” Atlanta Police Zone 3 commander Maj. Barbara Cavender told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“This is not Jack City, this is Pittsburgh,” Hoffman said . “If these Jack City gang members think this is their headquarters, they’ve got another thing coming.”

Hoffman stood outside Iconium Baptist Church, across the street from the McDaniel Street store, flanked by dozens of Pittsburgh residents who complained that the store has been the center of violence, gambling and drug activity for more than 10 years.

“This operation is over,” former State Rep. Doug Dean said of the store. “We’re asking the city to use all of its power to close this place.”

Cavender said the store, positioned at the corner of McDaniel and Delevan streets, has required higher-than-normal police responses since she took over Zone 3 last year.

“It takes a lot of police time,” she said. “And when we arrive, we don’t get a lot of cooperation.”

A list of police responses to the address obtained by the AJC shows 384 calls, including nearly 230 patrols initiated by the police and almost 30 fights since Jan. 1, 2011.

On the window of the store are scrawlings of gang graffiti that read “1029 Da Jungle,” “Jack City” and "YJC da Crew.”

Store owner Juan Vasquez has held the lease on the business for just three months and acknowledged that although a security camera points at the spot where the attack happened Saturday, no one called police.

He said his hands are tied regarding what goes on outside the store.

“I cannot control the ‘Jungle' boys,” Vasquez said of the gang members. “They are 14, 15 and 16 years old.”

White admitted to initially being nervous about speaking to a large audience and having his pain broadcast across the media.

"But now that I'm speaking about it, I'm comfortable," he said.

On Tuesday, Barrington-Ward called the gang members "cowards" for picking on someone significantly smaller than they are.

White, a slender young man of about 5 feet 5 inches tall, said he was emboldened by the chance to deliver a message to others who have been or might be accosted for their sexual orientation.

"I'm the brave one ," he said, as he directed his words to other victims or would-be victims. "Don't wait until it's too late to report it. Don't hide it."

White said he thought the attack was gay bashing and deserved federal hate crime charges that are being considered.

"It's clearly stated in the video why they did it," he said. "I just want to see justice done."

Brandon White said he wasn’t going to call police Saturday after he was attacked and beaten amid a hale of anti-gay slurs outside a southwest Atlanta neighborhood store.

But then he learned a video of him being beat up was posted online and had gone viral.

“At first I was embarrassed,” White said. “But if they are willing to put it out there, I’m going to face it”

White, 20, said he was still shaken by the violent gang assault Saturday that thrust his image into the national spotlight and the center of the debate over crimes against gay men and women.

“I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder just because I’m gay,” he told a room filled with reporters Wednesday afternoon. “Who’s to say they won’t try to come after me again? Who can say they won’t try to kill me?”

White was lit upon by three men Saturday in broad daylight, punching him and kicking him repeatedly – one even slamming an abandoned tire onto his head while he was on the ground – while a fourth man videotaped the incident.

All the while, the men were calling him a derogatory name associated with gay men, and shouting that his kind wasn’t wanted around “Jack City,” their gang.

The attack has brought national attention and outrage, both from within the Pittsburgh neighborhood where the incident happen, and from the national gay and lesbian community and even from federal law enforcement.

“The actions depicted in the video are appalling and unacceptable in our community,” U.S. Attorney Nancy Quillian Yates said Monday in a statement, noting that federal authorities are considering lodging hate crime charges.

But Devin Barrington-Ward, an activist with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy organization Change Atlanta, Georgia should have statewide hate crime laws to prevent this sort of violence.

“Unfortunately, we need a teachable moment like this to enact legislation,” Barrington-Ward said. “I refuse to have another teachable moment.”

At the heart of the problem, however, is the grocery store – the so-called “pink” store at 1029 McDaniel Street – where even White acknowledged an ongoing safety concern.

“That community needs help, and it’s not just a gay and lesbian issue,” he said. “There have been a lot of things that have gone on in front of that store.”

Community leaders on Wednesday apologized to a man who was severely beaten outside a southwest Atlanta store to White.

"The biggest problem we have about this is that no one thought to stop and call the police," said LaShawn Hoffman, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association president and CEO, at an afternoon press conference attended by the victim, identified as Brandon White. "As if this is a norm. This is not the norm."

An online video showing members of the so-called 1029 Jack City Gang punching White,  kicking him and bludgeoning him with a car tire amid shouts of anti-gay slurs outside the store a store at 1029 McDaniel Street went viral.

Wednesday morning, members of the Pittsburgh neighborhood in southwest Atlanta said they want an end to gang violence in their neighborhood, and to the so-called “Pink Store” where White was brutally beaten Saturday in broad daylight.

And city officials plan to help.

“We’re going after the business to try to get it as nuisance abatement,” Atlanta Police Zone 3 commander Maj. Barbara Cavender told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Days after an online video showing members of the so-called 1029 Jack City Gang punching, kicking and bludgeoning with a car tire a young man amid shouts of anti-gay slurs outside the store a store at 1029 McDaniel Street went viral, community leaders are asking the city to shut down the store and remove  gangs from the area.

“This is not Jack City, this is Pittsburgh,” said LaShawn Hoffman, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association president and CEO. “If these Jack City gang members think this is their headquarters, they’ve got another thing coming.”

Hoffman was flanked by dozens of Pittsburgh residents who complained that the McDaniel Street store has been the center of violence, gambling and drug activity for more than 10 years.

“This operation is over,” former State Rep. Doug Dean said of the store. “We’re asking the city to use all of its power to close this place.”

Cavender said the store, positioned at the corner of McDaniel and Delevan streets, has required higher-than-normal police responses since she took over Zone 3 last year.

“It takes a lot of pol

Brandon White said he wasn’t going to call police Saturday after he was attacked and beaten amid a hale of anti-gay slurs outside a southwest Atlanta neighborhood store.

But then he learned a video of him being beat up was posted online and had gone viral.

“At first I was embarrassed,” White said. “But if they are willing to put it out there, I’m going to face it”

White, 20, said he was still shaken by the violent gang assault Saturday that thrust his image into the national spotlight and the center of the debate over crimes against gay men and women.

“I shouldn’t have to look over my shoulder just because I’m gay,” he told a room filled with reporters Wednesday afternoon. “Who’s to say they won’t try to come after me again? Who can say they won’t try to kill me?”

White was lit upon by three men Saturday in broad daylight, punching him and kicking him repeatedly – one even slamming an abandoned tire onto his head while he was on the ground – while a fourth man videotaped the incident.

All the while, the men were calling him a derogatory name associated with gay men, and shouting that his kind wasn’t wanted around “Jack City,” their gang.

The attack has brought national attention and outrage, both from within the Pittsburgh neighborhood where the incident happen, and from the national gay and lesbian community and even from federal law enforcement.

“The actions depicted in the video are appalling and unacceptable in our community,” U.S. Attorney Nancy Quillian Yates said Monday in a statement, noting that federal authorities are considering lodging hate crime charges.

But Devin Barrington-Ward, an activist with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy organization Change Atlanta, Georgia should have statewide hate crime laws to prevent this sort of violence.

“Unfortunately, we need a teachable moment like this to enact legislation,” Barrington-Ward said. “I refuse to have another teachable moment.”

At the heart of the problem, however, is the grocery store – the so-called “pink” store at 1029 McDaniel Street – where even White acknowledged an ongoing safety concern.

“That community needs help, and it’s not just a gay and lesbian issue,” he said. “There have been a lot of things that have gone on in front of that store.”

Community leaders on Wednesday apologized to a man who was severely beaten outside a southwest Atlanta store to White.

"The biggest problem we have about this is that no one thought to stop and call the police," said LaShawn Hoffman, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association president and CEO, at an afternoon press conference attended by the victim, identified as Brandon White. "As if this is a norm. This is not the norm."

An online video showing members of the so-called 1029 Jack City Gang punching White, kicking him and bludgeoning him with a car tire amid shouts of anti-gay slurs outside the store a store at 1029 McDaniel Street went viral.

Wednesday morning, members of the Pittsburgh neighborhood in southwest Atlanta said they want an end to gang violence in their neighborhood, and to the so-called “Pink Store” where White was brutally beaten Saturday in broad daylight.

And city officials plan to help.

“We’re going after the business to try to get it as nuisance abatement,” Atlanta Police Zone 3 commander Maj. Barbara Cavender told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Days after an online video showing members of the so-called 1029 Jack City Gang punching, kicking and bludgeoning with a car tire a young man amid shouts of anti-gay slurs outside the store a store at 1029 McDaniel Street went viral, community leaders are asking the city to shut down the store and remove gangs from the area.

“This is not Jack City, this is Pittsburgh,” said LaShawn Hoffman, Pittsburgh Community Improvement Association president and CEO. “If these Jack City gang members think this is their headquarters, they’ve got another thing coming.”

Hoffman was flanked by dozens of Pittsburgh residents who complained that the McDaniel Street store has been the center of violence, gambling and drug activity for more than 10 years.

“This operation is over,” former State Rep. Doug Dean said of the store. “We’re asking the city to use all of its power to close this place.”

Cavender said the store, positioned at the corner of McDaniel and Delevan streets, has required higher-than-normal police responses since she took over Zone 3 last year.

“It takes a lot of police time,” she said. “And when we arrive, we don’t get a lot of cooperation.”

A list of police responses to the address obtained from police by the AJC shows 384 calls, including nearly 230 patrols initiated by the police and almost 30 fights since Jan. 1, 2011.

On the window of the store are scrawlings of gang graffiti that read “1029 Da Jungle,” “Jack City” and "YJC da Crew.”

Store owner Juan Vasquez has held the lease on the business for just three months and acknowledged that although a security camera points at the spot where the attack happened Saturday, no one called police.

He said his hands are tied regarding what goes on outside the store.

“I cannot control the Jungle boys,” Vasquez said of the "Da Jungle" gang. “They are 14, 15 and 16 years old.”

ice time,” she said. “And when we arrive, we don’t get a lot of cooperation.”

A list of police responses to the address obtained from police by the AJC shows 384 calls, including nearly 230 patrols initiated by the police and almost 30 fights since Jan. 1, 2011.

On the window of the store are scrawlings of gang graffiti that read “1029 Da Jungle,” “Jack City” and "YJC da Crew.”

Store owner Juan Vasquez has held the lease on the business for just three months and acknowledged that although a security camera points at the spot where the attack happened Saturday, no one called police.

He said his hands are tied regarding what goes on outside the store.

“I cannot control the Jungle boys,” Vasquez said of the "Da Jungle" gang. “They are 14, 15 and 16 years old.”

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.

With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.

Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.