Hate Crime Suspect Cites Anger Over Trayvon Martin Case

An 18-year-old charged in a Chicago beating told authorities he attacked his white victim because he was angry about the shooting of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

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The death of teenager Trayvon Martin has sparked racial violence nationwide, including in Chicago where an 18-year-old charged with a hate crime told authorities he attacked his victim because he was angry about the highly-charged Florida shooting, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Investigators charged 18-year-old Alton L. Hayes with attempted robbery and aggravated battery as well as a hate crime, according to state’s attorney spokesman Andy Conklin. A 15-year-old boy was also charged with attempted robbery. The two teenagers jumped a 19-year-old man at about 1 a.m. in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park Wednesday. “During the course of the investigation, we learned that the crime was related to the victim’s race,” Oak Park police chief LaDon Reynolds said.

(MORE: Zimmerman Addresses Trayvon Martin’s Parents at Hearing: ‘I Am Sorry’)

But that’s not the only incident that has been linked to Martin’s case. Reports of isolated incidents around the country are citing angry and frustrated members of the African American community. In Mobile, Ala., a group of black people allegedly beat a white man, Matthew Owens, although police say the attack was not motivated by the Martin case. Police say Owens chased away the young people with a knife, which prompted the beating. The FBI are investigating the incident for evidence of a hate crime.

Martin was shot and killed Feb. 26 by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who claims the shooting was in self-defense. Martin was unarmed at the time, and his death has caused a nationwide debate over racism and racial profiling. Zimmerman faces charges of second-degree murder; according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, the case is the most closely followed news story in America.

MORE: Zimmerman Released from Jail to Await Murder Trial