Four in skinhead group charged in clash

St. Petersburg Times/January 3, 2007
By Abhi Raghunathan

St. Petersburg -- Four men associated with a skinhead group chased down and beat up a member of a separate neo-Nazi group in downtown around 12:30 a.m. New Year's Day, police said.

St. Petersburg police arrested four men associated with a group called SHARP, or Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. Police say the men were attacking 22-year-old Deven Slater, who belongs to a neo-Nazi group. The fight took place in the 600 block of Central Avenue.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, the skinhead subculture was not originally racist, and skinheads who call themselves "sharps" say they adhere to those original antiracist beliefs.

But the fight may have been fueled by alcohol more than philosophical differences, according to police. Both groups were downtown for the New Year's celebration, and several men in the brawl appeared to be drunk, according to arrest reports.

William Proffitt, a police spokesman, said there appeared to be antagonism between the SHARP group and Slater's neo-Nazi group. "For whatever reason they don't like one another," Proffitt said.

Around 12:30 a.m., an officer saw Slater running away from several men. After catching up to Slater, they punched and kicked him until he fell to the ground. As he was down, the men kicked him in the head, police said.

Slater did not cooperate with police, Proffitt said.

Police arrested the four alleged attackers on various charges such as disorderly conduct: 20-year-old Sean McNally, 22-year-old Daniel McNally, 22-year-old Brian Cooper and 25-year-old Aaron Buss.

When called for comment, Daniel McNally said: "I don't want to talk about it."

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