With hate crimes rising by 17% over the last year alone, it’s difficult not to put the blame squarely on the atmosphere of fear and malice promoted by President Trump in his tweets and at his rallies. This dramatic rise, however, fails to show the true extent to which the problem has grown.
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Take the latest case to disgust civilized Americans, an apparently shrinking percentage of the populace, and then consider the fact that it was filed without any charges of a hate crime attached.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Jose Lopez was in the office of his Salt Lake City tire shop when he suddenly heard his son Luis screaming in the adjacent garage. He ran over to discover a man standing in the courtyard of the shop holding a metal bar and hurling racial insults at his son while brandishing the five-foot truncheon menacingly.
“I hate Mexicans,” he spat. “I f—ing hate Mexicans,” The Tribune reports.
“Are you part of the Mexican mafia?”
“I’m here to kill a Mexican.”
The man then proceeded to swing the metal bar at the elder Lopez who had stepped between the assailant and Luis. The teenaged son quickly grabbed a tool from a nearby chest to help ward off the violent intruder, but he was hit in the face by the man and knocked out. The man continued beating Luis after he was unconscious and managed to also hit his father in the back and on the arm as he tried to defend his son.
Luckily, Jose’s brother showed up at that moment, frightening the man and scaring him off. The family immediately called the police, who quickly rounded up Alan Dale Covington, 50, and booked him on suspicion of two counts of aggravated assault.
“They’re very shaken up,” said Jose’s daughter, Veronica Lopez, reached by the newspaper at the hospital where her brother is still being treated. “My family feels targeted.”
According to The Tribune:
“Salt Lake City police Detective Greg Wilking said Friday that it now appears the man was under the influence of drugs during the attack and had ‘some mental health issues’ that ‘clouded his judgment.’ Covington previously spent time behind bars, Wilking added, and was particularly concerned during that time about being attacked by a member of the Mexican mafia, which is a prison gang in the United States (mostly based in California).”
“He wasn’t really based in reality,” Wilking said. “We don’t want to ignore a hate crime if it’s a hate crime, but we don’t want to make it a hate crime if there’s not that aspect of it.”
The Lopez family disagrees with the failure to file hate crime charges in the case and at least partially blame President Trump for motivating the crime. Before Trump’s inauguration, the Hispanic family rarely heard ethnic slurs used in Utah, according to Veronica Lopez. Now, they are not surprised that this type of attack has invaded their previously benign city.
“You just hear more of it now,” Ms. Lopez said.
Meanwhile. Luis Lopez is still in intensive care after having his cheekbone and eye socket shattered and his sinuses collapsed in the assault. He’s had to have a titanium plate implanted on the right side of his face. His father Jose required eight stitches in his arm and has a bruised back but is otherwise on the mend.
Their assailant, Covington, is currently being held in Salt Lake County jail, but his threats to return to the tire shop has the Lopez family on edge and feeling unsafe at their own business, given the perpetrator’s lengthy criminal history, which includes felony counts of assault and domestic abuse.
With the police in Salt Lake City determining that mental illness and drug abuse precludes their ability to classify even such a blatant example as this as a hate crime, one has to wonder how many other racially or ethnically motivated crimes fail to be reported and classified as such. The number of such incidents in the Trump era has likely grown at a much faster pace than the already lamentable 17% figure quoted earlier. And we all know who we can blame for that meteoric rise, don’t we?
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Original reporting by Courtney Tanner at The Salt Lake Tribune.