Victim Recovering After Gang Beating in St. Paul, Minn.

-By Warner Todd Huston

Ray Widstrand, a 26-year-old white man, moved to a St. Paul neighborhood that many feel is dangerous. On August 4, Widstrand found out why people think so badly about the neighborhood when he was beaten into a coma by a group of local gangbangers.

The young man moved to St. Paul’s Payne-Phalen neighborhood sometime in June but never expressed any fears of the neighborhood to family or friends. In fact, they say he was very excited about moving into his new apartment.

But on evening of Sunday, August 4, Widstrand was walking along the street in his newly adopted neighborhood when a fight between rival street gangs erupted. It wasn’t long before some members of the gangs turned their attention to Widstrand.

The gang members set upon Widstrand and beat him into unconsciousness. When police finally arrived, Widstrand was found bleeding from his mouth and nose. He had also had his clothing ripped off and his belongings stolen.

According to police, some of those involved in the fight belonged to the black street gang the East Side Boys or its younger affiliate, Ham Crazy.

Widstrand is a producer for a local community access cable TV station that provides service to Ramsey and Washington counties.

Witnesses said that the street gang members seemed to come out of now where all at once and began to fight just before Widstrand happened upon the scene. Police think they coordinated their actions with social media.

By August 12 Widstrand was brought out of the medically induced coma but his chances for recovery are expected to be “slight and could include permanent and protracted loss of brain function.”

Four members of the street gang were arrested for the assault on Widstrand.

Police, however, have said it is unlikely that they will put a focus on racial bias or hate crimes in their investigation.

“We are not oblivious or blind to the sentiment out there,” said St. Paul police spokesman Howie Padilla. “While some of the sentiment is racially fueled, our concern is the violent gang activity in this case and that’s what we are working to address.”

But according to, racial bias in such crimes may not figure into prosecution of this case, regardless.

Racial bias, the paper notes, is a misdemeanor in Minnesota according to the Ramsey County attorney’s office said. “However,” the paper reported, “Minnesota law calls for ‘aggravating factors’ to be considered by the court, with racial bias as a possible factor. If an aggregating factor is found, it can result in prison sentences longer than what is recommended in the sentencing guidelines, the attorney’s office said.”
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Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago based freelance writer. He has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and before that he wrote articles on U.S. history for several small American magazines. His political columns are featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart’s,, and, as well as,,,,, among many, many others. Mr. Huston is also endlessly amused that one of his articles formed the basis of an article in Germany’s Der Spiegel Magazine in 2008.

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