Ray Widstrand Brutally Beaten by Suspected Gang Members: Was It a Hate Crime?

Filed in Gather News Channel by on August 12, 2013 0 Comments

Ray Widstrand, 26, a producer for Suburban Community Channels, is in critical condition with “potentially fatal brain swelling,” after being beaten, stripped and robbed by suspected gang members in St. Paul, Minnesota.

It happened “within blocks” of the police department.

There are four arrests in the case so far, with police looking for additional suspects.

Andy Greder and Tad Vezner of Twincities.com wrote yesterday that Widstrand was on his way home last Sunday when he stumbled upon a “gang fight.” Although news reports have indicated that Widstrand “tried to walk through a group of 30 to 50 juveniles and young adults who were fighting,” it would be more believable if Widstrand tried to walk around them.

Who would walk deliberately into a gang fight?

The criminal complaint says that Widstrand’s “prognosis for recovery is slight and should he live, he will suffer permanent and protracted loss of brain function.” According to one witness, the violence started at a party, where “some girls at the party starting fighting outside and that everyone went outside to watch the fight.”

Does anyone think to stop fights anymore? It is reminiscent of the recent horrific school bus attack, where three older teens were beating up a younger teen. Not one of the students lifted a finger to help. Nobody even stood up!

What happened to empathy? Honor?

The report also states that when police found Widstrand, his

“legs and arms were spread out and he was lying on his back. His pants were off and his shirt torn. He had blood coming from his nose and mouth and was unresponsive.”

One witness “believed that the young males hitting, beating and stripping the man were either East Side Boyz or Ham Crazy.” In the four arrests so far, three were unidentified juveniles. One was 19-year-old Isaac Maiden “who was identified from a still shot taken from a camera in the area,” according to Todd Wilson of ktsp.com.

The East Side Boyz and Ham Crazy gangs, along with other local gangs like the Selby Siders and the Gutta Block gang have been responsible for “numerous murders in recent years,” as reported in June by the Star Tribune. The murder victims are mostly other gang members, or possible retaliation attacks, like in the case of Naressa Turner, 20, who was murdered after “rumors” on social media indicated that she set up another murder – that of Dominic Neeley in 2012.

So why was Widstrand attacked? By all accounts, he was not involved in gangs. He was not a witness to other gang crimes. Not surprisingly, there has been no mention of the senseless attack being motivated by race in the news media.

According to the complaint, another witness,

“…described seeing a white male assaulted who had walked into the area. She thought the first person who struck him had hit him with a can in a sock. The man went down and a ‘whole bunch of little eastside boys’ began to kick the man. She saw them strip him of his pants and go through the pockets. This witness described trying to protect the man from the numerous people kicking and stomping him.”

The “Ham” in “Ham Crazy gang,” by the way, stands for “Hoes And Money,” according to Mara H. Gottfried of Twin Cities.com. Gottfried was reporting just last month on the murder of 17-year-old Vincent A. Allison who was in a gang, as well. In that case, “30 people were involved,” in the same neighborhood were Widstrand was attacked.

On a sad side note, the annual Fourth of July Carnival at Veterans Park, a “tradition that’s been around for decades” was canceled this year because police fear it draws gangs,” according to the local CBS affiliate. How sad for the citizens who go to the carnival every year.

The gangs have quite a bit of power, it seems.

Apparently, the gang problem in Minneapolis is not getting nearly the attention it deserves from the mainstream media. One can only hope for Widstrand’s recovery and that his family and loved ones can see the perpetrators of this senseless and heartless crime brought to justice.

First Image Source (Ray Widstrand): Suburban Community Channels via TwinCities.com

Second Image Source (Isaac Maiden): KARE-TV via TwinCities.com

Follow Renee Nal on Twitter @ReneeNal and Facebook.

Check out her news and political commentary on the Examiner and TavernKeepers.com for news you won’t find in the mainstream media. Renee is also a guest blogger for the Shire Blog.

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