By Devin Rose
An 18-year-old Oak Park man was charged with a hate crime April 17 after he attacked another man and told police he had been upset about the Trayvon Martin case, authorities said.
The victim, a 19-year-old man also from Oak Park, told police he heard footsteps behind him as he walked in the 600 block of North Kenilworth Avenue shortly before 1 a.m. last Tuesday. Alton L. Hayes III, of the 1200 block of Woodbine Avenue, grabbed the man and pushed him against a tree while a 15-year-old boy from Chicago picked up a tree branch and pointed it in the man's direction.
Hayes then removed items from the man's pockets, threw him to the ground and struck him on his head and shoulders, police said.
Responding officers saw the two people walking north on Oak Park Avenue toward Thomas Street, and they ran when officers tried to stop them. The officers found them after searching yards in the area.
A spokesperson from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office said Hayes did admit he was upset by the Trayvon Martin incident. Martin was shot and killed in February by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.
When asked about the connection to the Martin case, Oak Park Police Commander LaDon Reynolds could only say police had information that there was probable cause to believe the motivation, or part of the motivation, for the crime had something to do with the victim's race. The victim was white and both offenders were black, he said.
Hayes was charged with robbery, aggravated battery and a hate crime, which are all felonies. He is being held in the Cook County jail on $80,000 bail and will appear in court May 11, according to the Cook County Sheriff's website.
The 15-year-old was referred to juvenile court.