White Florida men accused of racially profiling Black teen Jermaine Jones, smashing car with rock

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A black teenager was driving his family’s Mercedes-Benz this week in a neighborhood of Sanford, the Florida town known for the murder of Trayvon Martin, when he and his friend saw two white men angrily approach the vehicle with a traffic cone and a large stone.

The men accused the teenagers of street racing, which they denied, according to video recorded by the teenager and posted on Instagram. After one of the adults threw the orange cone into the side of the car and damaged the vehicle, the other man threw the rock and smashed a window, according to a report from the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office.

“Tell them what you were doing! » one of the men yelled at the 16-year-old driver, accusing him of “running out, running” down the street.

“Get out of my neighborhood!” the other shouted at the teenager, calling him a curse.

After the teenager – identified by authorities as Jermaine Jones – asked why one of the neighbors at the scene appeared to be carrying a gun, a white woman on the street replied: ‘You are the one. get a gun!

“You don’t belong here!” she screamed.

Video of Tuesday’s confrontation would soon go viral. Many praised the teenager for handling a situation that could have ended differently if he hadn’t recorded it and called on his parents for backup. Others also condemned the men’s behavior and accused them of racially profiling the teenager.

“If I was just a white person driving in this neighborhood, I wouldn’t have been treated the way I was treated,” Jermaine, courtesy of his father, told The Washington Post in an interview.

A few hours after the incident, Howard Hughes, 61, and Donald Corsi, 52, were arrested for felony criminal mischief with property damage, according to information obtained by The Post. Hughes also faces a misdemeanor battery charge, and Corsi was charged with a criminal offense of launching a deadly “missile” into a vehicle.

Neither Hughes nor Corsi responded to requests for comment on Thursday. A lawyer for Hughes did not immediately respond to a request for comment early Friday. Court records show Hughes pleaded not guilty.

Corsi did not yet have a lawyer and had not pleaded guilty, according to court records.

CJ Jones, the teenager’s father, rushed to the scene with his wife shortly after his son called him. He told the Post that the incident immediately brought back memories of Ahmaud Arbery, the 25-year-old black man chased and murdered by three white men while jogging through a Georgia neighborhood in 2020.

“If we weren’t here, [law enforcement] would never have charged [the men] even if we had evidence on the spot,” said Jones, 56. “We could have lost our son that day.

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Jones deemed the charges “really light” because, unlike the Arbery case, no hate crime charges were filed. Jermaine said it took law enforcement two to three hours to arrest the men after investigating, despite his account of what happened and the smashed window, rock and cone as evidence.

“It seemed like [if] the matter was going to turn sour,” Jones said.

Sanford, about 25 miles from Orlando, is perhaps best known as the town where neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman shot and killed Martin, an unarmed black teenager, in February 2012. Zimmerman claimed self-defense by shooting on Martin, 17, in a case that was among the first to set the stage for the country’s recent racial reckoning – and it helped give birth to the Black Lives Matter movement. Zimmerman was acquitted of all counts of second degree murder and manslaughter in July 2013.

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Jermaine and his passenger were on their way to a friend’s house in the neighborhood on Tuesday when the men later identified by law enforcement as Hughes and Corsi initially shouted ‘verbal threats’ as they approached the car, according to arrest reports. Jermaine said he stopped the car and apologized to the men in an effort to defuse the situation. But the situation hasn’t defused, Jermaine told the Post.

In place, one of the men, later identified by officers as Hughes, walked towards the car holding an orange cone and hit the rear driver’s side door with it, causing a large dent under the glass, according to the report.

The other man, later identified by officers as Corsi, approached the car and threw a “large sharp-edged rock” at the rear side of the driver, shattering the window, the report said.

The rock was still inside the back seat when officers arrived, the report said. Jermaine and his friend got out of the car shortly after the objects were thrown because they feared for their lives, officers wrote.

Jermaine suffered no injuries, but his friend said one of the men hit him in the stomach with the cone, the report said.

Moments later, Jermaine began filming with his phone and then called 911 to report the incident, he said.

“They tried to shoot us too,” he told the dispatcher, according to a recording of the call obtained by The Post.

Jermaine later added in a video posted to social media, “What one of them said, they were like, ‘Officer, we don’t tolerate any of that in our neighborhood,’ basically saying I don’t belong in their neighborhood.”

“Don’t believe what he tells you!” one of the men is heard shouting in the background of the 911 call. “He’s lying!”

Jones said he would take care of repairs to the car, which he considers minor collateral damage compared to the emotional scars the incident left on his son.

“The night it happened I had a nightmare where I didn’t handle it the way I did,” Jermaine said. “Last night I couldn’t fall asleep until 3 or 4 in the morning.”

Both Hughes and Corsi were released on bail, according to court records. They are due back in court on August 16.

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