Posted by Mack of Sound-Savvy On 9:44 PM

This is a real news story, about a real event, experienced by a real human being. This hits home because Levi Lee is a fellow alumnus of Johnson C. Smith University, and this is his story. Sound-Savvy has readers of all races, and I don't want this article to cause anyone to make blanket generalizations about any one race. This isn't just an act of hatred, it's an act of ignorance, cowardice and disregard for human life. When will we realize that we need each other to survive? When will we realize that skin color is but a miniscule element in the makeup of a man, and has no bearing on a man's character? When we have to see pictures of this in our newspapers or on our blogsites, when do we stop and ask ourselves: WHAT'S GOIN ON??

'They Just Beat Us Up Because Of The Color Of Our Skin'
By Wendy Ruderman
The Philadelphia Daily News
Posted on 8.18.08

LEVI LEE and Bryson Mills arrived on the doorstep of the Daily News last week looking bruised and battered.

Even hard-bitten reporters - their eyes widening - seemed taken aback by the appearance of the two young men.

Their clothes were smudged with blood. Mills gingerly pressed an ice pack to his right eye, which was swollen shut. Lee sported gashes in his lip and head.

But the worst injuries weren't visible.

As victims of an alleged hate crime, Lee and Mills said they suffered the kind of soul-penetrating wounds that may never completely heal.

"They didn't know us," Lee said. "We didn't know them.

"They just beat us up because of the color of our skin."

Lee and Mills, both 22, said that they were so disturbed by the experience that they felt compelled to speak out publicly. They recounted their story with a kind of mild-mannered outrage:

Mills had just one more week of summer vacation before classes resumed at Bloomsburg University, where he is captain of the basketball team. Lee, who graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, N.C., in May, wanted to show his childhood friend a good time before he went back to school.

Duded up in designer clothing, they spent Thursday night clubbing in Old City. They finished the evening at Moda Lounge, a hip place on Chestnut Street known for speciality cocktails and a big dance floor. At about 2 a.m., they walked along Market Street, looking to catch a cab home. The streets were peppered with weary partyers. Suddenly, at 5th and Market streets, Lee and Mills said that they spotted about six or seven white men chasing a black man.

" 'Get back here, n-----,' " one yelled, according to Lee and Mills. " 'We gonna get you, n-----.' "

One of the white guys took a swing at the black guy, and Mills said that he yelled out something like, "Yo, they're jumping that black guy!"

The pack of white males turned their attention to Mills and Lee, while the guy they were chasing took off toward Penns Landing and disappeared.

"That's when they came running towards us and said, 'You f------ n------,' " Lee said.

One guy took a swing at Mills, striking him in the shoulder. Mills said he threw a punch and another guy joined the fight. Lee stepped in to help Mills, and three other white guys pounced. Some wielded two-by-fours. The wooden planks sliced Lee's face, according to Mills and Lee.

As stunned witnesses watched, Lee said he ran into the middle of Market Street and stopped a police car. Meanwhile, Mills lay crumbled on the ground after getting repeatedly stomped, kicked and punched. The white guys ran off, screaming racial slurs, Mills and Lee said.

"It's like they had no regard for us as human beings," Mills said.

Paramedics took Mills and Lee to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, where they spent six hours before doctors determined that they had suffered no broken bones or serious head injuries. Mills' girlfriend, Courtney Gordon, said that she was deep asleep at 4:30 a.m. when Lee called.

"He said, 'I need you to come to the hospital. Bryson's eye looks very bad,' " Gordon said.

When she got to Jefferson about a half-hour later, Gordon said that she tried to hide her horror when she saw Mills. By then, police Det. Thomas Galonsky was there to take their statements. He informed them that police already had two suspects in custody.

"There was a real good witness, an independent witness, who watched the whole thing," Galonsky said in a phone interview Friday.

The witness pointed out two guys, who were nabbed about a block away from 5th and Market, Galonsky said.

Police arrested Richard Lyons, 25, and James Genearao, 26, also known as James Cummings, both from the city's Fishtown section. Lyons and Genearao, who was charged under the name Cummings, were charged with criminal conspiracy, possession of an instrument of a crime, simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, reckless endangerment and ethnic intimidation.

Galonsky said that he was still trying to identify other possible suspects. He didn't know whether to characterize the incident as a hate crime, he said.

"I think some hate might have come out during the attack, but I don't know what sparked the whole thing," he said.

Lyons' mother, Nicole Lyons, said that her son is not a racist.

"I know my son and he's not anything like that," she said.

She claimed that Mills and Lee attacked her son, perhaps in an attempt to rob him. Genearao's family could not be reached for comment.

Lee and Mills grew up together in North Philly and graduated from Benjamin Franklin High School. They both won college scholarships. In college, they thrived, feeling as though no matter their ethnicity or where they came from, if they worked hard nothing could hold them back.

Now they are less certain of that. Never before had they encountered such in-your-face racism, Lee and Mills said.

Mills' mother, Anita Bethea, said that she cried when her son told her what had happened.

"Something just dropped in me," Bethea said. "It really hurt. I was upset that he had to learn that racial tension and racial hatred still exist in 2008. His belief that all is right with the world is gone. There is no getting it back." *

9 comments and counting...

  1. same shit, different day. welcome to america! it's funny tho. i wonder what the charges would be if one of those white boys lay dead in the middle of the street. let's see how far we've come in this nation when, or if, they get charged.

    Posted on August 18, 2008 at 11:06 PM

  2. foxxychica Said,

    I agree with Anthony. Please keep us updated on this horrible hate crime. I wouldn't be surprised if those crackers walk away. Then that racist mother trying to claim her child wouldn't do something like that, she a damn lie! She know she raised her child to hate. I get so tired of white folks claiming that they aren't racist and their child wouldn't committ a hate crime, it bullS*&^!

    (Ok, I am going to stop before I really get on my soapbox.)

    Posted on August 18, 2008 at 11:25 PM

  3. Anonymous Said,

    Keep an eye on this "story", as it turns into something other than what's been reported..

    The Daily News is the lesser of two on-the-way-down local dailies that pander to black/white controversy.

    Look closely at this "news report" - it's actually more of a feature-writing opportunity for one of the DN's standard crime reporters - a chance to do something different than what she does 99% of the time - report on blacks killing blacks.

    Consider the phrases that reporter Ruderman uses, such as "pack of white males", and "The white guys ran off, screaming racial slurs".

    Compare this reporting to that done by both the Daily News and the Philadelphia Inquirer on the recent murder of Sean Patrick Conroy, a white man set upon, and murdered in the subway by a group of five black teens in June:

    Now if you've taken the time to read this report, you can see that the paper bent over backward to avoid labeling Conroy's MURDER a Hate Crime, while Ruderman's piece clearly presents this story as such.

    This is poor journalism, and shows a clear bias toward incitement and opinion - it's more of an editorial than a factual report of any kind.

    Now speaking practically - there's a lot about this story and its reporting that stinks - if you were locals, and knew the area in question, I'd be better able to explain it to you, but suffice to say, something's fishy.

    Anyway, try to keep up on this story at

    And bear in mind that the Daily News is struggling to sell papers!

    Posted on August 19, 2008 at 12:33 AM

  4. Sound-Savvy Said,

    Mr. or Ms. Anonymous, I read your comment, and appreciate your input, but I don't see your logic. The reporter uses the phrase "alleged hate crime" as you can clearly see. And the reason for that labeling appears to come from direct quotes from the victim, who is quoted as saying "They just beat us up because of the color of our skin". That, in itself, denotes a crime of hate.

    In the article you posted, the defendants and even the prosecutors in the case have pretty much realized that this was a random act of violence, not a hate crime. The defendants were looking for a victim and happened upon a man of caucasian descent. This doesn't take away from the violent nature of the crime, and they are just as wrong as the assailants in the story from the Daily news. But what you're pointing out as sensationalist journalism is simply not. The assailants to Levi Lee and Bryson Mills were yelling racial slurs that were heard by the victims and the witnesses. THAT, once again, denotes a hate crime. If you can show me what was done to denote a hate crime in this other story and show me how it was intentionally left out of the article, maybe I can agree with you in the fact that the journalism is a little biased.

    But let's break this down a little further, you're missing the real point. Violence, whether random or not, whether fueled by hate or not is WRONG. The point is not who's trying to sell papers, this is factual information, with direct quotes and eyewitness accounts that support the claims presented. It's not about who is struggling to sell papers, there are victims here from both stories, victims of violence, let's not lose sight of or minimize the big picture in an attempt to point fingers at the ones who aren't at fault here.


    Posted on August 19, 2008 at 10:34 AM

  5. Anonymous Said,

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, soundsavvy, and for reading the linked article about Conroy's murder.

    We're in absolute agreement about how wrong violence is, but that's not what I was questioning.

    To be clear, I'm making two points here:

    Ruderman's story in the Daily News does not rise to the level of factual reporting - it's sensationalistic and irresponsible, and is perfectly consistent with that paper's historic pattern of inciting controversy between black & white Philadelphians.

    Secondly, the likelihood of much of this story is uncertain.

    The area where the crime is said to have taken place is very well-traveled, even at 2 AM (the bars are closing), and police are everywhere. The chances of a "pack of white males", armed with 2x4s, and prowling the area in front of the Federal Courthouse and Independence Mall is less than credible.

    Not one of the "stunned witnesses" (plural) were interviewed by reporter Ruderman, and the police detective assigned to the case was unable to characterize the assault as a hate crime.

    All of the descriptions and details of this violence are from the victims and their families, up to and including the inflammatory headline "They just beat us up because of the color of our skin" - no one else who could support the story was interviewed.

    The fact that not one other local news organization has covered this story speaks volumes - again, something's fishy.

    Posted on August 19, 2008 at 5:09 PM

  6. Sound-Savvy Said,

    I see part of your point: that the writer wasn't completely objective. I can also see that the use of some of the language could cause incitement since this hasn't been officially characterized as a hate crime. But consider the scenario: Two badly beaten men sit down in front of you to give an account of how they got their injuries, one beaten so badly that his eye has swollen to the point of complete closure. Are you sure that you could be totally objective?

    As far as the likelihood of the events occurring, I wasn't there either, and I might question it, if the reporter hadn't included an entire paragraph related to the arrest of 2 suspects within a block of 5th and Market Streets, where the crime occurred. Furthermore, the two were charged with possession of an instrument of a crime. I'm no cop, but I'm pretty sure you can't be charged with possession of an instrument of a crime if you don't actually possess the weapon. And then there was also the direct quote from the mother of one of the suspects. When given the chance to speak on the incident, she attempted to flip it around as if these men were trying to attack or rob her son. A direct quote, but I think that's enough to incite me...

    Once again, I wasn't there, all I can go on is what I read, and the input from the detective substantiates the claims that these two men were involved in the act and used a weapon of some kind. The only thing in question here is whether it was a crime of hate, or a random crime. I agree that the writing does seem a little biased, and the reporter was not completely objective. But if you have such a problem with the writer's objectivity, isn't that an issue you should take to the Philly Daily News?

    Posted on August 20, 2008 at 12:51 PM

  7. <> Said,

    This is directly aimed at ANONYMUS....i understand what you are sayin about the story being sensationalized, and that may be so...however your ABSOLUTELY and COMPLETELY wrong if you are implying that the story is fictionalized or exaggerated. One of the victims is a personal friend from school and he would never try to make a race issue out of something he didnt believe really was about race. It angers me that instead of focusing on the fact that these young men were wrong for what they did you continue to focus on how it is classfied. MALICIOUSLY BEATING INNOCENT PEOPLE WITHOUT CAUSE IS WRONG! It is as simple as that.

    Posted on August 26, 2008 at 3:52 PM

  8. Fellow Smithite Said,

    I'm so sad that this had to happen. It really hits home since Levi is a friend of mine. Sometimes I can be so naive about the ways of the world. I also agree that the story is sensationalized. I wrote better newspaper articles than this in high school. However, that doesn't change the sequence of events.

    I think that given the fact that the men were already angry at one black man and that racial slurs were yelled, that the attack was partially driven by hatred of a race. Regardless of the race of the victims and attackers though, this was a ridiculus crime to commit.

    I am even more incensed by the comment of one of the attackers' mother. Why in the world would two unarmed men try to rob one of 5 men weilding 2x4s and wooden planks? And, not that my testimony means anything, I know that Levi would never ever do anything like that. It just doesn't make sense.

    What IS going on?

    Posted on August 27, 2008 at 5:50 PM

  9. Anonymous Said,

    Just a follow-up:

    It's been about three weeks since Wendy Ruderman's original report in the Philadelphia Daily News - a report that has not been covered, or written about in any way by ANY of the other Philadelphia media.

    This includes the Philadelphia Inquirer, the 24-hour news radio station, all three major television network stations, the local Fox affiliate, all of the Public televison & radio outlets, the two weekly "free" city newspapers, and perhaps most tellingly, the Philadelphia Tribune - the major local Black newspaper.

    And no follow-up at all from the source, the Philadelphia Daily News - nothing. Not a peep.

    But the ORIGINAL inflammatory & sensationalistic story as published, is now all over the Internet - it's been linked-to, quoted in full, copied & pasted, and accepted as 100% pure fact, with posted comments pretty much mirroring what's been written on this page.

    Suspicion should be raised - unless a person should WANT this terrible story to be true.

    Posted on September 7, 2008 at 10:54 PM


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