The days when violent acts of racism were blindly ignored and oftentimes legally validated in America have for all intents and purposes come to an end. But, as we all know, racial prejudice is still very much alive and can pop up at any given moment.
That seemed to be true when a 23-year-old Black woman suffered one of the most recent examples of an apparent hate crime after she became the victim of what she described as a racially-motivated verbal attack by a 59-year-old white man that led to him punching her in the face more than 10 times last week at a gas station in Jacksonville, Florida.
Now, calls are growing for Kevin Troy Williamson to have his charges upgraded significantly to reflect what lawyers say was a racist attack against Rayme McCoy for no other reason other than his bigoted ideologies.
Williamson has only been charged with misdemeanor battery, according to News4Jax, despite the vicious nature of his attack. He is out on a $20,000 bond with terms that prevent him from having any contact with the victim, witnesses or the gas station, where surveillance video recorded the brutal attack.
McCoy posted the damning video evidence to her Instagram, showing Williamson delivering a series of closed-fist punches to her face before he quickly exited the gas station’s store.
Here’s how News4Jax initially reported it:
“McCoy said she walked into the gas station near her home and was followed by an older white man who was already involved in an argument with someone outside.
McCoy said the man was ‘ranting and raving’ and using racist language and at one point, the man walked toward the counter where McCoy was standing and she asked him to back up. That’s when the man said he had a gun in his car, McCoy said.
‘So at that point, I felt threatened,’ McCoy said. ‘He put his beers on the counter in front of my stuff and I slid them over and at that point, that’s when he started punching me in the face.’
Video shared with News4JAX, which does not contain audio of the exchange, shows the man with a mustache and a green shirt punching McCoy in the face at least 10 times before he walks out of the store. The video was also posted on social media and shared thousands of times.”
Williamson’s license plate number eventually connected him to the crime, which led to his arrest last Friday, May 20. It was later revealed that he’s a registered sex offender, which he actually had the unmitigated gall to reference when asking the judge to consider releasing him without bond.
“Ma’am, could I speak a moment? I request that maybe you could lower my bond to nothing because I’m not a flight risk,” he boldly pleaded in court, going on to add, “I’ve fulfilled, for 33 years, the state’s registration requirements. Never missed. I’m down to – I got 2 and ¾ years left, and they’re going to relieve me of that. Of course, I go to court.”
After the judge politely denied his request, he responded by stating, “Yes, Ma’am. Just thought I’d ask you,” before wishing her a “wonderful day.”
However, the local news outlet First Coast News reported on Wednesday that Williamson is out on bond with his next court date set for June 10.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office wrote in its report that no hate crime was committed, but attorney Randy Reep confirmed it’s actually up to the State Attorney’s Office to decide if that charge will be pursued. He explains this by stating, “So the battery is an unwanted touching — that is easy to convince a jury of in this case. That woman did not invite the punches that she received.” Reep clarified things further by stating, “But if you add in the hate crime element, like we saw in the Mr. Arbery case up in Georgia, you’re adding in now a racial animus as the motivating factor to do that battery — it becomes a harder thing to prove. There’s a new element in the story to prove.”
Once witnesses are interviewed, the State Attorney will make a decision on the final charges. Reep expects that process to take between two to three weeks.
In the meantime, McCoy’s lawyers and family along with community activists say they want to see Williamson’s charges to be upgraded.
“It was in fact, appalling, savage, barbaric, vicious, and brutal. Miss Rayme McCoy was singled out because of her race,” Ben Frazier, an influential local civil rights activist, said. “But its impact is much broader than that. What happened at that BP service station amounted to an attack on the very heart, body, soul and consciousness of the greater Jacksonville community.”
It was “racism and hate” that motivated Williamson to attack McCoy, the victim’s mother said during a press conference earlier this week.
“As a woman, I am infuriated to know that a man would brutally attack a woman due to his own personal anger and rage. As a mother, you always want to make sure your children are safe,” Shefreea Williams said. “My heart aches knowing that I was unable to protect my daughter from this heinous crime. It disturbs me to know that my daughter now feels unsettled about entering a gas station alone. As a human, it saddens me that we still live in a world of racism and hate.”