Baltimore police say they are investigating a witness account that a group of black youths beat a Hispanic man near Patterson Park Sunday while saying, "This is for Trayvon."
A witness posted the account on a community Facebook page, and police confirmed they are looking into whether the suspects' reaction to the verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman played a part in the incident. A police report on the beating does not mention the alleged comments.
Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman, declined to go into further detail.
In a post that drew nearly 50 comments on Facebook, real estate agent Christina Dudley said she was walking to her car just before 9 p.m. when she saw several young black males and two black females chasing a 37-year-old Hispanic man west on North Linwood Avenue past East Fairmont Avenue.
"One of the boys had a handgun out and it was pointed at the back of him," Dudley said in an interview.
They caught up to the man at the corner of Fairmount and N. Streeper Street, and the male with the gun beat the victim with what appeared to be his gun while others kicked and stomped him, Dudley said.
"They were just yelling and calling him names as they ran after him, but once they were hitting him and after that they started yelling, "This is for Trayvon, [expletive]," said Dudley, who heard the chant repeated multiple times.
Dudley and a woman walking her dog across the street told the group to stop and warned that they were calling 911. The group scattered before police arrived. Police have no arrests or named suspects.
Using a translator, police spoke to the victim, who knows some English, according to the police report. The victim told officers that he was standing in the intersection of Fairmont and N. Potomac Street when a group of five black males first approached him.
He described all of the males as between 16 and 18 and told police a 6-foot suspect with a black "stretchy" shirt and mohawk told him, "What's up, [expletive]." When the victim raised his phone to call 911, the suspect raised his shirt and flashed a silver handgun in his waistband.
The victim turned and ran before he was caught in the 2800 block of Fairmont and was beaten, police said. He sustained abrasions to his elbows and forearms but refused medical attention.
Police listed all of the suspects involved as black males. Three were "skinny" while one was described as overweight.
Dudley, who lives in the neighborhood, said she worries about her Hispanic neighbors and said she and other residents were looking for ways to warn them of the incident beyond Facebook. Patterson Park has one of the city's highest concentration of Latinos and is home to the city's annual Latino Fest.
Zimmerman, who is of Hispanic descent, had been charged with killing Trayvon Martin in an altercation that drew national concerns about racial profiling. He was found not guilty of all charges.
"Everyone in the neighborhood is well aware of the situation, but my concern is that we have a very large Hispanic population and many of them might not have Internet connection or they aren't on that page," Dudley said. "So my concern is trying to get the word out to them."