Sejdalija Nuhanovic holds up a Bosnian flag along Gravois Road after a march on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. Police blocked traffic as hundreds of people marched from Holly Hills Avenue down Gravois Road to Itaska Street where Begic was killed. Photo By David Carson,
ST. LOUIS • One teen was charged with murder, two more were held and a fourth was sought Monday as officials spent another day trying to quell speculation that the bludgeoning death of a Bosnian immigrant was racially motivated.
“There is no evidence that this was a crime occasioned by the race or ethnicity of the victim,” Mayor Francis Slay declared in a formal statement. He added, “Speculation that this attack had anything to do with the Ferguson protests is absolutely unfounded.”
Robert Joseph Mitchell, 17, who lives on Winnebago Street, turned himself in at city police headquarters late Sunday and was charged with first-degree murder and armed criminal action. It was unclear whether two other suspects in custody, juveniles 15 and 16, will be charged as adults. Police said they know the identity of a fourth participant, who is sought.
According to court documents, members of the group yelled at Begic, his fiancée and two others as they walked to Begic’s car. As the vehicle drove away, one teen jumped on the back and began beating on it. Begic stopped and got out, and one of the men taunted him to fight before all four attacked — and continued to beat him after he fell to the ground.
About 300 people gathered Monday afternoon for a two-hour vigil near the scene in the Bevo Mill neighborhood — about three times as many as had gathered Sunday night. Many were worried that racial tension had fueled the killing.
Lewis Reed, president of the Board of Aldermen, wrote a letter Monday to the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, asking the budget director to research ways to pay for more police. It echoes a call already made by Dotson, citing continuing protests since the shooting of Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson Aug. 9.
Reed wrote: “From what we have seen during the past week, there is no indication that the protests and demonstrations are going to be slowing down any time in the near future. We should not ask the members of our police department to continue to work 12-hour shifts indefinitely. This could lead to morale problems as well as diminishing returns with respect to effective law enforcement.”
Begic probably did not back down, like a typical deracinated white American would have. So Begic and his companion Nuranjkovic were picked out for being white; and then their actions were more Balkan and Slav, and in that case it lead to his death. (I am not suggesting that the youths would have spared some pleading white Americans, but.)
The Bosnians there fell victim to the the hatred for white Americans and they are in a catch-22. They can’t respond as Bosnians, because their enemies are not from a clan and were not after them as Bosnians. Their response would be to exact vengeance but against whom?