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Beating victim Matthew Owens lies in his hospital bed at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. He was badly beaten by a mob of African-Americans, including some of his neighbors, on April 21. (WKRG-TV / video capture) Beating victim Matthew Owens lies in his hospital bed at the University of South Alabama Medical Center. He was badly beaten by a mob of African-Americans, including some of his neighbors, on April 21. (WKRG-TV / video capture)  

Victim’s sister: Mobile, Ala. black-on-white beating sparked by theft, not basketball

Photo of Chuck Rudd
Chuck Rudd
Contributor

The sister of a white Mobile, Alabama man who suffered severe head trauma during a beating by approximately 20 black neighbors on Saturday spoke exclusively to The Daily Caller, saying that the incident started after one of her children witnessed some of the eventual assailants stealing an item from a neighbor’s porch — not, as some media outlets have reported, following a disagreement about a pick-up basketball game in the street.

Ashley Parker, whose brother Matthew Owens is clinging to life after the assault, said Owens was attacked after her 21-year-old daughter witnessed a group of African-American youth moving from yard to yard in the neighborhood and taking something that didn’t belong to them. She told Owens, who confronted the youths.

She “saw one of them take something off a porch,” Parker said, “and that is when Matthew approached them and told them they need to go home.”

The group returned with more than a dozen others, she said, beating Owens with bats, brass knuckles, a chair, a paint can and other objects. The attack left him bloodied and unconscious.

Parker has since reinforced her account about petty theft precipitating the incident, telling the same version of events to a Facebook group that was started to support her brother.

She said she is “scared to death” and plans to move out of the neighborhood this week.

“I don’t feel safe here anymore,” she told TheDC. “My brother is being smeared. … I know how this works now. The victim always ends up the bad guy. I have lost faith in humanity because of this.”

Her children, she said, “witnessed their uncle being beaten half to death. Now my children are afraid. I will not live like this.”

She is also concerned that her home address is being distributed on Twitter.

One man, 44-year-old Terry Rawls, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree assault in the case, WKRG-TV5 in Mobile reported. Deputy Police Chief Lester Hargrove said investigators now believe only four people were involved in the beating, with the rest of the group standing and watching.

In a stunning development on Tuesday, WKRG released raw footage of an African-American woman who lives on the street where the beating occurred exclaiming that Owens, not the mob, was at fault. She yelled her protest in the direction of correspondent Lauren Vargas and her cameraman as they prepared to shoot a news segment.

The woman, who did not identify herself, said that police had to be called “every weekend” because “Mr. Owens was swinging … knives out here in front of these kids.” She also alleged that he was “bipolar” and “he drinks.”

She also accused Owens of being a racist: “The kids’ ball just went up here in his yard,” she yelled, “and he started cussing, like calling them ‘niggers.’ How would you like for your kids to be called ‘niggers’ all the time?”

WKRG reported Wednesday after Rawls’ arrest that he lives in the same house as the woman who accused Owens, on-camera, of being a racist.

It was Parker who told police she heard someone in the group of her brothers’ assailants say after the attack, “Now that’s justice for Trayvon.” Media reports have identified neighbors who corroborated her statement.

The alleged comment refers to the Feb. 26 shooting of 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Florida. Social justice activists in the black community have complained that Martin’s shooter, a Hispanic man named George Zimmerman, was given special treatment by police. Zimmerman was later arrested, charged with second-degree murder and released on a $150,000 bond.

Parker told TheDC that after Owens yelled at the group of black youths for stealing, he told them to bring their parents over so he could talk to them.

The kids brought their parents, said Parker, and then some.