Two brothers from New Gloucester were arrested Sunday in connection with what Portland police say was a racially motivated assault.

Charles Bean Jr., 35, and Benjamin Bean, 30, are accused of attacking Antonio Byars, 33, in an alley off Congress Street.

According to information provided Tuesday by Portland police, officers responded on Sunday to a report of a group of people fighting, and found the Bean brothers assaulting Byars.

Police said the Beans were initially fighting with an unidentified man, which prompted a small group of people to gather, including Byars.

Police said the Beans asked Byars what he was looking at and then used racial slurs while threatening to kill him. The Beans then allegedly attacked Byars, who was the only black person in the group.

Byars suffered facial injuries and was treated at a local hospital and released.


Charles and Benjamin Bean each faces charges of assault and interference with constitutional and civil rights, both Class D misdemeanors.

Additionally, the case has been referred to the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office and the Maine Attorney General’s Civil Rights Unit.

The alleged assault on Byars represents the third incident with racial overtones that has occurred in Portland in recent weeks.

A brick wall and windows at the Portland Halaal Market on St. John Street were spray-painted April 12 with graffiti offensive to Muslims. Portland police and the market’s owner called the incident a hate crime. The graffiti referred to Allah – but misspelled Allah – and included a sexual epithet. Surveillance video showed a white male wearing a black-hooded sweatshirt spray-painting the building at 5 a.m. that day.

On April 3, Jackie Ward, a morning news anchor for WCSH-TV in Portland, wrote a Facebook post about another incident of racism she saw in Portland’s Old Port district, in which a carload of young white men yelled a racial epithet at a mixed-race family of four who were walking on the sidewalk.

The family’s older son ran after the car but was unable to catch up as it sped past. The family’s little girl seemed frightened, Ward wrote. Ward’s post went viral, triggering more than 850 comments, most of them debating race relations in Maine.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.


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