19-year-old gets prison in hate-crime beating of special-ed Poly student

A 19-year-old was sentenced to eight years in prison today for his part in the videotaped beating of a special-education student that sparked outrage from parents and concern about racial violence around Poly High School earlier this year.

Immediately before being sentenced in a Long Beach courtroom, Bryan Blancas pleaded no contest to one count of assault including allegations that the attack was a hate crime and carried out to benefit a gang, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office.

On May 15, Blancas and his friends were caught on video jumping a 17-year-old special-education student who attended the Poly Academy of Achievers and Leaders, according to prosecutors and parents from the school.

The boy tried to run from the group of attackers after they asked him where he was from, but they chased him down before punching and kicking him, the boy’s mother, Rasheena Mccord, previously told the Long Beach Post.

Mccord said she believed her son was targeted because he was black. The beating left him with scrapes, bruises on his head and a torn eardrum, according to his mother.

In the wake of the attack Mccord and other parents pushed for more safety measures. They rallied outside of Poly and watched over kids as they were released at the end of the school day, trying to push back against violence they said is a decades-old problem.

Concerned community members hold signs saying “Our lives matter” in front of Poly High School on Monday, May 20, 2019. The group gathered following multiple attacks on Poly students in recent weeks. They believe the jumpings are race-related. Courtesy photo.

They worried about racial violence as other students were jumped and videos were posted on social media showing groups of black and Latino boys hurling racial epithets and attacking each other.

Some of the videos included references to local gangs, but parents said they believed the animus had shifted to students being attacked simply based on the color of their skin.

On May 21, Long Beach police arrested Blancas along with a 16-year-old boy and a 17-year-old boy after serving a search warrant.

It’s unclear if Blancas’ friends are facing similar charges. Because they are minors, the proceedings are confidential.

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Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his journalism career in 2007 as an intern at Palos Verdes Peninsula News and has worked for The Forum Newsgroup in New York City, the Daily Pilot and the Press-Telegram.