Police have charged at least six alleged white nationalists who assaulted a black man in a bar outside of Pittsburgh, Penn., with ethnic intimidation after they jumped the man in a back room.
According to KDKA-TV, the alleged assault took place on July 7 in Avalon, just six miles outside of Pittsburgh, at the Jackman Inn bar. Avalon police say the group of men who attacked a black patron, Paul Morris, bore tattoos and clothing with insignia from the hate group, Keystone United. The group is recognized by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups throughout the country, and was formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads.
The bar manager, Jackie Scanlon, says Morris had gone in a back room to talk to a friend when he was called a racial slur by the group of white men, who were playing pool.
Scanlon said when a bartender asked the group to leave, they attacked Morris.
“Eight of them jumped Paul,” Scanlon said. “He was hit in the face. He bent down to pick up his glasses, he was hit again.”
In a phone conversation with KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh’s CBS affiliate station, Morris said the group told him they would eradicate black people one by one before proceeding to attack him.
“They attacked me because they had hate in their hearts. I didn’t do anything to these people personally,” Morris told the TV station.
Avalon police charged the men with simple assault—a misdemeanor that carries a 2-year maximum sentence, ethnic intimidation, conspiracy for simple assault, and a conspiracy for ethnic intimidation. (Ethnic intimidation is the term the state of Pennsylvania uses for hate crimes.)
In 2009, the Keystone State Skinheads neo-Nazi group rebranded as a white nationalist organization, and remain among “the largest and most active single-state racist skinhead crews in the country,” the SPLC says.
The group’s tagline is “freedom through nationalism.”
Researchers say reported hate crimes have been on the rise for the last several years. One recent study found hate crimes had increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2017. While the numbers aren’t in for 2018 yet, one spokesman for The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism recently told USA Today that influential election years, like this one, often see an uptick in hate crimes toward the end of the year.