Salt Lake City police are still searching for six or seven black men seen on video allegedly pummeling two white men over a Confederate flag decal on their pickup truck, the New York Daily News reported Thursday.
In the viral footage above, a would-be attacker explains that one of them is "mad cause you have a f-cking Confederate flag on the back of your truck."
A man in a white hat motions for one in the group to back off, telling him, "Why don't you go over that way?" He then gets punched to the ground, setting off a lopsided fight.
Salt Lake City Police Det. Cody Lougy told the tabloid that prosecutors will decide whether to pursue hate crime charges, as one of the alleged victims, Kelly Leeper, has requested, the News noted.
"If I want to fly the Confederate flag, it's my right," Leeper told Fox 13, adding he’ll “be damned if I ever come to Salt Lake again without bringing my gun."
Leeper was in town from Wyoming to see a Garth Brooks concert with a friend when he saw the men surrounding his truck at a Red Lion Hotel parking lot Sunday. That's when he and his friend approached the group. He said racial slurs flew both ways during the confrontation, Fox 13 reported.
"If the situation was reversed, and if there was a large group of white males who confronted two black gentlemen who, hypothetically, had a sticker on their vehicle that said, 'Black lives matter,' it would be dubbed a hate crime in a heartbeat,” Leeper told the Deseret News.
Leeper told the newspaper he wasn't a racist -- that the Confederate flag to him meant standing up for one's rights, and that one of the friends he was with that night is black.
In a Wednesday report, KUTV said authorities were "unlikely" to investigate the case as a hate crime because it did not seem to fit the criteria. "If the threat or the assault is based strictly on race, religion or those protected classes, then yes it's a hate crime," Sgt. Robin Heiden told the station. "In this case, it's a little different because the argument [is] over the flag."
Here's an earlier news report on the incident:
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