On March 6, Dan J. Popp, a 39-year-old white man living in Milwaukee, Wis., asked his neighbor Jesus Manso-Perez if he wanted a beer. He declined and Popp followed up his hospitable gesture by asking where Manso-Perez, who was accompanied by his 18-year-old son, was from. Puerto Rico, he answered.
“Oh, that’s why you don’t speak English,” Popp replied, according to a criminal complaint obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You’re Puerto Rican.” Moments later, Popp would kill Manso-Perez.
“You guys got to go.”
— Ben Hutchison (@BennyHutch) March 14, 2016
According to the aforementioned criminal complaint, Manso-Perez and his son, whose identity still remains anonymous, headed down to their apartment building’s basement to do laundry. Popp followed shortly thereafter, only instead of beers, he had a rifle and a pistol with him.
“You guys got to go,” Popp allegedly said. He then shot Manso-Perez at point blank. Popp fired again, presumably at the now-fatherless teen, but missed. He didn’t stop there. That same day, the alleged murderer kicked down the door of a unit occupied by Phia and Mia Vue — a Hmong couple — and their four children. Phia and Mia were also shot and killed.
Popp surrendered to the police soon after. He has been charged with three counts of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of first-degree attempted intentional homicide.
This isn’t a hate crime, at least not yet.
Today we remembered Jesus R. Manso-Perez, Phia Vue, and Mai K. Vue. Love will beat hate. It always does. pic.twitter.com/t4wUbtBf7y
— Chris Larson (@ChrisJLarson) March 13, 2016
Despite witness testimony that suggests the three killings were racially motivated, Popp has not been charged with a hate crime. Unsurprisingly, this has not sat well with multiple advocacy groups.
“This act needs to be labeled what it is,” Darryl D. Morin of the League of United Latin American Citizens told the Journal Sentinel. “It is important that our community, our city, our state and, in fact, our nation admit that hate does exist and where we see it, we must identify it.”
A Change.org petition demanding asking for hate crime charges has also circulated online, where it has collected nearly 2,500 signatures.
Although Wisconsin has the 25th largest Latino population in the country, Latinos are the largest minority group in the state. Similarly, the Hmong community in Milwaukee has seen exponential growth over the last decade. The future of this country will be Latino and Asian, something that has been reflected in Milwaukee’s population. For Popp, that reality appears to have been too much to handle.
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