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La. Attack Not Seen As Hate Crime

June 19, 1998

SLIDELL, La. (AP) _ A black man no longer believes racism was the motive for three white men who dragged him from their car, investigators said Thursday.

Cornelius Weaver, 23, told authorities it was a case of mistaken identity ``because there are many black males that walk up and down the road,″ sheriff’s spokesman James Hartman quoted him as saying.

Hartman said authorities were still investigating the case, just no longer as a hate crime.

Weaver, 23, has no telephone and could not be reached for comment.

He first told deputies he was walking home from a convenience store early Saturday when three white men in a passing car yelled racial slurs, grabbed him by the arm and pulled him for 2 1/2 blocks. He was scraped and bruised when he rolled away.

Hartman did not elaborate on why Weaver changed his opinion Wednesday.

The attack was similar to two other assaults this month.

James Byrd Jr., a black 49-year-old man, was dragged to death in Jasper, Texas. And a 17-year-old black youth was injured after being dragged in Belleville, Ill.

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