Community Rallies Behind Streetside Rapper After He Was Beaten by Driver
Published April 10th, 2014
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Members of the community are rallying behind a Gainesville man who police say was attacked on a street corner -- for simply dancing to his own beat.
Rafael Torres, 22, has been rapping and dancing on the side of Northwest 16th Avenue since December, all in an effort to bring smiles to the faces of drivers.
Torres -- who suffers from a mental disability -- says he was standing in his usual spot on Tuesday when 33-year-old Jerome Henderson tried to punch him in the face.
According to police, Henderson then chased Torres into a nearby restaurant, where he punched Torres at least three times in the head.
Torres says Henderson had threatened him for weeks before that. "He said that he's going to kick my butt," said Torres. "And he's going to chase me everywhere, and splatter my brains and break my bones, that's what he told me."
Members of the community seemed outraged that someone would threaten Torres. "People are horrible," said Gainesville resident Erin Silverman. "Why would you want to take away someone who's not bothering anyone and who brings smiles to kids faces?"
Henderson was later arrested and charged with aggravated stalking and abuse of a disabled person.
A Facebook group called "Rally for Raffy" was started on Wednesday in response to the attack. Organizers of the group are planning to stand outside with Torres on Friday to show they support what he does for drivers.
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