Local News

Benson Police Investigate Attack Near Outdoor Festival

Posted September 24, 2000

— A severe beating in Benson over the weekend may have been motivated by racial hatred.

The victim, Kurt Collier, was wearing a shirt with the confederate flag on it, apparently lost his way and wandered into a public housing project duringBenson's Mule Days.

"He walked through the neighborhood and was lost. He's not from Benson," says Sherry Grimes, a friend of the victim. "He was wearing a shirt that was a confederate flag. It had the confederate flag on the back and the front and on both sleeves."

Grimes came with Collier and other friends to enjoy Benson's Mule Days. Grimes says she last saw Collier Saturday as he and his girlfriend left intoxicated, looking for their camp site. Instead, the couple wandered into a public housing complex.

Benson police say three black males attacked Collier, beating him with a metal chair while 10 to 12 others gathered around to watch. Now out of intensive care, Collier is in good condition at Pitt Memorial Hospital in Greenville.

"All of the bones in his face are broken. He has blood on his brain," Grimes says. "If this was the other way around, you know, it would be a hate crime. All the media would be reporting about it."

If race was a factor, the suspects could be charged with hate crimes. For now, Grimes says Collier's family and friends would be happy just to find who attacked him, and have them face charges.

Benson police are not sure what role racism may have played in the attack. They report Collier's wallet was stolen, so robbery may have been a motive. Police are focusing on trying to identify suspects.


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