The NOPD is looking for three white men caught on camera beating a person of color in the Marigny.
Police say the men used racial slurs, but as of now the men would not be charged with a hate crime. NOPD says during the course of their investigation they can add a hate crime charge if they need to, but based on what they know Monday night, they believe this started as road rage and then turned into a hate-filled beating.
"We're looking for someone to tell us who they are because they attacked someone unprovoked and we're looking to charge them with aggravated battery," 8th District Commander Nicholas Gernon said.
The NOPD says they need the public's help identifying the three men, caught on security footage beating a man with brass knuckles and beer bottles. It happened after the LSU game early Sunday morning just off of Frenchmen Street in the Marigny. Detectives say the men were standing in the street when a driver attempted to pass and honked at the men to move.
"It was an unprovoked attack on a guy just trying to drive down the street and get to where he needed to go," Gernon said.
Police say the men surrounded the car and when the driver got out they attacked.
"Somewhere through the attack they started to use some racial slurs towards the gentlemen and then they ran away after some passerby interceded," Gernon said.
Although the NOPD is not classifying this as a hate crime yet, FBI data shows hate crimes across the country have been increasing since 2014. Hate crimes were up 11.7 percent in 2016, with African Americans making up the most targeted group comprising more than a quarter of all hate crime victims.
Dr. Peter Scharf is an LSU Health Criminologist. He says Sunday's attack creates a dangerous path.
"The brass knuckles, the racial slurs, they'll divide a city as quickly as anything," Dr. Scharf said. "And you have this happen a week after the Pittsburgh massacre."
He says the NOPD needs to act.
"Make it really clear in the way they respond to this that this is serious business," Dr. Scharf said.
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The NOPD is on the same page.
"They gotta be held accountable," Gernon agreed.
The NOPD asks if you recognize the men to call Crimestoppers at 504-822-1111.
Lauren Bale can be reached at email@example.com.