Authorities in Iowa are investigating the alleged beating of a black man who local civil rights activists say appears to be the victim of a hate crime.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, DarQuan Jones, 22, said he suffered a broken arm, a broken nose and five broken bones in his face after the alleged assault last weekend by multiple white men.
“Why did it have to go this far, to where my life was almost taken?” Jones said.
Jones and witnesses told authorities that at least one of the men was using racial slurs, Des Moines Police spokesman Sgt. Paul Parizek told NBC News.
Kameron Middlebrooks, president of the Des Moines chapter of the NAACP, told NBC News that the incident occurred around 3 a.m. on May 16 after Jones arrived at his girlfriend’s townhouse south of central Des Moines.
When she didn’t answer the door, two white men approached Jones and accused him of burglary, said Middlebrooks, who is working with the family. “That’s when the assault started,” he said.
The men allegedly choked and punched Jones in the face while using racial epithets, Middlebrooks said. Jones initially tried to defend himself, but fled to a nearby field, Middlebrooks said.
The men caught up with Jones, Middlebrooks said, dragging him to a creek and shoving his head underwater.
When two women from an apartment complex heard the commotion and came outside, Jones was able to run through a shallow creek and call the police, Middlebrooks said.
Jones described the alleged assailants as white men who appeared to be in their 30s and were possibly drunk or high, Middlebrooks said.
“If this is as the victim says it is, and the witnesses are reporting it as, it should be investigated as nothing less than a hate crime,” Middlebrooks said. “We want to respect the process, but they were using racial slurs throughout the altercation.”
Parizek said that the “racist nature of at least one of the attackers is obvious.” But he added that detectives are still gathering evidence to determine a motive.
Jones, who works for an auto parts store, was released from a local hospital earlier this week.