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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Stepdad accused of inciting racial fight
Neighbors say he used the n-word and pushed his stepson to fight a teen.
By MOLLY MOORHEAD, Times Staff Writer
Published February 8, 2008
Paul Van Riper faces prejudice and delinquency of a minor charges.
BAYONET POINT - On Tuesday, a white man named Paul Van Riper took his stepson by the arm and led him into the street. While neighbors looked on, Van Riper ordered him to fight a neighborhood boy who is half black.
The stepson, neighbors said, walked away.
But on Wednesday, Van Riper got his wish. Watching from inside his fenced back yard, authorities said, Van Riper yelled the n-word and other obscenities as his stepson, 17-year-old Alex Samples, fought the other teen.
The incident surprised no one along Duke Drive in Country Club Estates. Neighbors there say Van Riper, 48, has been spewing racial hatred for months and announced he was "declaring war" on all the black people in the neighborhood.
"He's a n----- hater," said neighbor Patricia Schipler, 59. "That's what he calls them."
The fight, in a parking lot near the boys' bus stop, amounted to little. Authorities arrested Samples on a charge of felony battery and released him to his parents' custody. Kip Thomas, the biracial boy, was unhurt.
Van Riper, who has no previous arrests in Florida, also went to jail. He faces charges of contributing to the delinquency of a child and prejudice while committing an offense. His bail is set at $2,500.
When a deputy came to investigate Wednesday afternoon, people along the street swarmed. One woman said Van Riper is constantly encouraging Alex to fight, according to a report. Another woman, whose son is biracial, said Van Riper uses the n-word with such venom that she fears for her child's safety.
According to court records, that neighbor, Denise Karban, sought a repeat violence injunction against Van Riper and Samples on Thursday.
Schipler said she and several others spoke in Kip's defense after Wednesday's brawl. They wanted to make sure blame fell on the right people.
"We're tired of it," she said. "We're tired of him."
Sally Chase, Kip's mother, said she's grateful for the neighbors' support. She, her husband and four kids are moving to a house around the block - partly, she said, because of the harassment.
Kip, who is 15 and wears a diamond stud in each ear, said Van Riper and his son are the only people who ever called him hateful things because of his race.
According to Schipler, the neighbor, it may not stop with African-Americans.
"He picks on the white people now too," she said. "He's just so full of hatred."
On the ride to the jail, Van Riper showed a glint of contrition. According to the report, he told the deputy he wanted the boys to "fight and get it over with."
The deputy told him, "We are very lucky to live in a free country where we can like or dislike anyone. But when you stand in your yard, yell and encourage your son to fight ... because you don't like black people, you have crossed the line."
Van Riper replied, "Yes, I know. I shouldn't have done that."