Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UPDATE; Year Later, Wounds Haven't All Healed Former Classmates Go Their Separate Ways after Fight That United Them

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UPDATE; Year Later, Wounds Haven't All Healed Former Classmates Go Their Separate Ways after Fight That United Them

Article excerpt

Byline: RACHEL DAVIS

A little more than a year has passed since the fight broke out at the Kraft Athletic Club in Fernandina Beach. The fight that pitted two white brothers against a group of black men. The one that left one brother badly beaten and might have killed the other if a black teen hadn't stepped in to save him.

The brothers' physical wounds have nearly healed, but the memory of that night challenges their attitudes about race and friendship.

According to the October 2005 story In Defense of a Teammate by Times-Union staff writer Thomas Lake, a fight broke out after Jackie Pearson confronted an unknown black man. The two exchanged words, and Jackie said he might have used a racial slur toward the man.

Eyewitnesses said numerous black men attacked Jackie and his younger brother, Quintin, with feet, fists and bottles until Andre Johnson, a former classmate, saw Quintin in trouble and jumped in the middle of the melee. Andre covered his former teammate's head until the beating stopped.

QUINTIN PEARSON

The passing of time can add clarity or confusion. For Quintin, 19, the past year brought both.

He has recovered in some ways from the brutal beating he survived in August 2005. But the mental wounds he suffered after the fight left him bitter and behind on his dreams.

"It changed me emotionally. I'm not very fond of black people any more. I don't think I'm completely racist," Quintin said. "The way they present themselves is the way I judge them."

His dreams of playing college football have been put on hold. He needs surgery for an ACL tear he suffered before the fight, but the money he brings in from odd jobs isn't enough.

Two men were arrested after the assault, and one was charged with aggravated battery. The State Attorney's office could not charge the first suspect and dropped the charges against the second because witnesses could no longer identify them as suspects. …

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