AVALON (KDKA) — It’s a quiet neighborhood bar, off the beaten track in Avalon, but an incident there last week is now being investigated as a hate crime.
An alleged neo-Nazi group is being accused of targeting an African-American customer, assaulting him and using racial slurs against him at the Jackman Inn.
“It’s sad that it happens anywhere, but it’s really sad that it happened in Avalon,” said Jackie Scanlon, the bar’s manager.
Scanlon says the assault was unprovoked.
It happened when the victim, patron Paul Morris, walked into a backroom where a group of men were playing pool. The men allegedly used a racial epithet against the victim.
Police say the group of men may have been from Keystone United, which they describe as a racist neo-Nazi group formerly known as the Keystone State Skinheads.
Scanlon says when the bartender asked the group to leave, they attacked Morris.
“Eight of them jumped Paul,” she said. “He was hit in the face. He bent down to pick up his glasses. He was hit again.”
Morris is now California, but KDKA’s Andy Sheehan spoke with him on the phone. He says one member who called him the n-word said his group would eradicate blacks one-by-one, and then he attacked.
“They attacked me because they had hate in their hearts. I didn’t do anything to these people,” Morris said.
Avalon Police detained some members of the group, but did not charge them. Avalon Police Chief Thomas Kokoski said he believes they will be charged, but the incident is still under investigation.
“If we’re able to probe that there is a skinhead movement against an African American male, that’s a huge problem,” said Chief Kokoski. “Right now there’s no charges filed. We’re working with the DA’s office to file the appropriate charges because of the racial overtones.”
The incident happened on July 7, and Morris’s lawyer, Fred Rabner, questions why no arrests have been made, saying they should be charged, not only with assault but with ethnic intimidation.
“This is a hate crime, there’s no doubt about it,” said Rabner. “I would hope that they’re going to get it right. I think that they should know that we’re not going to go away, so if they don’t get it right, they’ll deal with us.”