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Black teen attacked at country music fest by man in pickup with Confederate flag

Police are looking for three suspects after they say one of them beat up a black teenager who yelled at them for driving around waving a large Confederate flag at the Willamette Country Music Festival in Oregon.
Police are looking for three suspects after they say one of them beat up a black teenager who yelled at them for driving around waving a large Confederate flag at the Willamette Country Music Festival in Oregon. AP file photo

The Willamette Country Music Festival is supposed to be a time for music, dancing and fun. For one 18-year-old, it ended with a trip to the hospital.

The teen, who is black, was walking around the festival camping area before 10 p.m. shortly before a Kid Rock concert when a Ford pickup truck sped past him waving a “large” Confederate flag, the Linn County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a news release.

Kid Rock has courted controversy before for displaying the Confederate flag at his concerts.

The teen didn’t like the flag and yelled at the truck, which stopped. Officials say one male got out of the truck, and he and the teen began yelling at each other before the person from the truck hit the teen several times and then drove away.

Friends of the teen found him wandering around the area and called police, who searched the area but could not find the truck or the three occupants, who were described as either in their late teens or early 20s, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The teen was transported to a local hospital where he was treated for his injuries, the Sheriff’s Department wrote. The person who assaulted the teen was described as wearing blue jeans, a black muscle shirt with the sides cut off, brown boots and a black cowboy hat, the Sheriff’s Office wrote.

Linn County Lt. Michelle Duncan told the Statesman-Journal the alleged assailant could be charged with a hate crime.

“We’re going to investigate that portion of it as well,” she told the paper. “Until we do more interviewing, I can’t say whether it will be or not.”

Festival director Anne Hankins told the paper she condemned any act of violence and added that organizers were working closely with authorities.

Correction: This story originally misidentified the location of the hospital. It is in Lebanon, a short drive from Brownsville, where the festival was held.

Traffic on U.S. Highway 501, heading westbound into Aynor Sunday afternoon, slowed down before an overpass where a group was flying Confederate flags.

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