NAACP to look into local brawl

Sunday, October 5, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:40 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

The NAACP has begun an investigation into concerns that a black man was the victim of a racially motivated crime in Columbia.

Mary Ratliff, president of the Columbia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said she has already gathered preliminary information for the NAACP’s investigation into the injuries Bill Donnell, 46, allegedly received during a fight with two white men on Sept. 28.

“My job was to collect intake information,” Ratliff said.

This included an initial meeting with police, Donnell and witnesses, she said.

The next step, Ratliff said, is to give the information she has collected to a three-person legal redress committee that will make a full investigation.

Ratliff said she believes the incident could be racially motivated because of the language Donnell said the men used.

“They called him ‘nigger’ the whole time as they were beating him,” Ratliff said.

Donnell alleges that two men hit him with fists and bats on Sept. 28 when he went to their home to confront them about a disagreement they had with Donnell’s son. But the two men said it was Donnell who initiated the fight and they were simply protecting themselves.

Police determined all parties were equally responsible for the altercation, and the Boone County prosecutor has decided not to file any charges.

The results of the investigation could lead to both criminal and civil charges, Ratliff said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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