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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Juneteeth Mayhem

Witnesses sought in mob beating

People in a crowd in Austin, Texas, killed the passenger of a car that had hit a child.

By Liz Austin Peterson
Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas - Police yesterday pleaded for witnesses to help them track down members of an angry mob that beat a man to death after the car he was riding in apparently struck a child.
Investigators were struggling to piece together what happened Tuesday when David Rivas Morales died defending the driver from members of a crowd leaving a Juneteenth celebration. There could have been anywhere from two to 20 attackers, Austin Police Commander Harold Piatt said.

The car in which Morales, 40, was a passenger had entered an apartment complex's parking lot when it struck a 3- or 4-year-old child, Piatt said. The child was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The driver got out of the car to check on the child and was confronted by several people, Piatt said. When they attacked the driver, Morales went to his rescue and was attacked as well. Police said no guns or knives were used.

The driver got away and is cooperating with police, who have not identified him.

Margaret Morales said a young boy came to her door to tell her that her brother was lying on the ground outside. She found him sprawled on the pavement 100 feet from her townhouse, battered and choking on blood. She said her mother came running after hearing her screams, but police wouldn't let either of them get close.

The Morales family remembered David, who was a painter, as a caring brother. "I just want the people caught and brought to justice," said his sister Elizabeth.

An estimated 2,000 to 3,000 people were in the area for the Juneteenth festival, marking the day Texas slaves got the word that they had been freed.

Story #2

Cars smashed, drivers attacked after Milwaukee's Juneteenth celebration

A handful of violent incidents tarnished Milwaukee, Wisconsin's Juneteenth celebration for the second year in a row. The festival itself was peaceful, but police in riot gear had to deal with several incidents after the event.

Among the incidents, a large group of teens were jumping on unsuspecting drivers' cars and kicking in windows on at least two vehicles.

In one incident, a crowd surrounded a car stuck in traffic. A couple of teens jumped on top of the car. One smashed out the rear windshield. The driver stayed in the vehicle and was not hurt, but he did smash into the car ahead of him trying to speed away from the attackers.

Further down the same street, a woman in car stopped after a teen jumped onto the back of her car. She got out and yelled at the teen, then she got back into her car. She also hit the car in front of her as she tried to get away.

A short time later the crowd surrounded another car, pounding on the hood and trunk and breaking out the windows. After a woman reached into his open window, the driver got out and was assaulted. He was kicked in the head by a man and fell to the ground. He was taken to the hospital for treatment.

In another incident, police said a young woman hit an officer in the face as the officer was trying to break up a large fight. The blow shattered the officer's face shield. The officer was cut by the shattered face shield and needed stitches at the hospital.

The woman was arrested.

Many people who attended the celebration are angry that the celebration, marking the end of slavery in America, was once again marred by violence. Last years celebration also resulted in violence and arrests.

Organizers are concerned there will be pressure to cancel the ceremony next year.

Thousands of people attended the Juneteenth celebration itself without incident.

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