Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Young Athlete Badly Beaten in Hate Crime in Morgan City Area

Blair Irvin is an aspiring professional athlete from the small Louisiana town of Patterson, near Morgan City on the Gulf Coast. He believed that racial divides in our society were mostly a thing of the past. But that changed on August 14, when he was badly beaten outside an all-white bar not far from his home, by attackers who shouted racial epithets at him as they beat him, while a crowd of at least thirty people watched.

Irvin had gone to a mostly white college – Kansas State University – and his ex-wife and much of his social circle is white. On August 14, according to Irvin, a white woman who he had met two weeks before, named Denise Aucoin, called him from a nearby bar named Charlene’s Roadhouse and asked if he would give her a ride home. Irvin was a bit confused as to why she called him, but he agreed to come. Irvin says it now seems clear that he was set up – that they invited him to the bar specifically to beat him.

When he got to the bar, he found Aucoin with her brother and a friend, and told her it appeared that she didn’t need a ride. Irvin left, but Aucoin and her friends followed him out. As a crowd gathered to watch – including Charlene Estay, the owner of the bar – Aucoin and her friend Bengie Lafleur and brother Robert Taylor savagely beat Irvin, breaking his jaw in two places. As they beat him, Irvin says Aucoin, Lafleur and Taylor yelled racial epithets at him, telling him that “(N-word)‘s don’t belong here,” and bragging that they had “whipped the Black off your ass.”

None of the onlookers, including the bar owner, called the police. “I almost died out there,” he says. “They left me for dead.”

Irvin says he still feels traumatized. He says he has lost 15 pounds since the incident, and has regular dizzy spells. The nature of his injuries have shattered his hopes of a career in sports – he cancelled an upcoming tryout with the Florida Tuskers, a UFL team based in Orlando. Irvin also complains of fears as he goes about his day. “I can't walk in a store without getting scared by people walking behind me,” he says.

On August 18, Aucoin, Lafleur and Taylor were arrested and charged with second-degree battery and hate crimes. Their bonds were set at $150,000 each. Employees reached by phone at Charlene’s Roadhouse refused comment.

Pictured above: Top: Blair Irvin. Left: Bar owner Charlene Estay.

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