Things That Matter

He Threw Acid On A Peruvian Immigrant’s Face And Now He’s Being Charged With A Hate Crime

A Milwaukee man has been arrested after throwing acid in the face of a United States citizen. The victim says his attacker told him to “go back to his country” during the incident. Mahud Villalaz, who is of Peruvian descent, survived the attack that left him with second-degree burns on his face after the perpetrator instigated an argument with Villalaz regarding how he parked his truck. 

A 61-year-old man was arrested in connection with the attack and charges will be brought to the District Attorney’s Office, according to the Milwaukee Police Public Information Officer Sgt. Sheronda Grant, CNN reports. 

A parking dispute erupts into an alleged hate crime. 

According to WISN, the Milwaukee Police Department says the attack occurred at 8:25 PM on Friday. Villalaz believes the attack is racially motivated. When the attacker noticed Villalaz’s truck was parked incorrectly he confronted him at a Mexican restaurant. Villalaz says he conceded and went to move his truck. When he returned the man was there waiting for him. 

“Because I was parked wrong. I’m going to my truck, and I move it half a block there. Then I get out to go to the restaurant, and the guy’s still there with a bottle in his hands,” Villalaz said. 

“I believe (I) am a victim of a hate crime because (of) how he approached me. This is pretty much a terrorist attack.” 

Villalaz says the attacker called him an “illegal.” 

After the man approached him again, he called Villalaz an “illegal.” According to police, this is where the argument escalated. 

“He started arguing, saying, ‘Why you came here and invade my country? Why you came here illegally?’ [I said], ‘Sir, you don’t know my status. I’m a U.S. citizen too,'” Villalaz recalled to ABC News. “He got mad when I told him ‘everybody came here from somewhere else.'”

This is when the attacker threw, authorities believe to be was, battery acid on him. 

“I started screaming for help. I went to the restaurant to try to wash myself,” Villalaz told ABC. “I was really scared. I thought he was going to run behind me. But thank God nothing else happened.” 

Villalaz was relieved that he survived the incident saying, “Thank God he didn’t have a gun and I have my life.”

A Reporter shared Villalaz’s story on Facebook.

#UPDATE: Alleged Milwaukee #AcidAttack I just spoke to the victim’s family, they say he was leaving Mexican restaurant…

Posted by Chernéy Amhara on Saturday, November 2, 2019

Emmy-award winning reporter Chernéy Amhara shared Villalaz’s story on Facebook after speaking with his family. She revealed that the attacker was in fact a white male. 

“Milwaukee police confirm the man suffered second-degree burns. Police say the suspect is outstanding and describe him as Caucasian male, approximately 6 ft tall with a medium build,” Amhara wrote. 

“He was last seen wearing a blue winter jacket with the hood up, black pants, black shoes, carrying a black satchel on his right side and holding a silver aluminum container containing suspected battery acid with a white shopping bag with unknown lettering.”

Chernéy Amhara releases video footage of the attack. 

Amhara obtained video footage of the attack from Milwaukee Police. The video shows the man waving his finger at Villalaz, before pointing at his face, then dousing him with the liquid in a bottle he was holding. Villalaz then runs back into the restaurant. 

Milwaukee Alderman releases a statement about the attack.

“This was senseless violence and it needs to stop. We as a community need to come together to work through our differences and learn to respect one another and defuse conflict,” Alderman Jose Perez said. 

“We need those elected officials who are spreading racial hatred to knock off the rhetoric designed to divide us. Instead, we need to work to heal the wounds that have been gashed open in the last few years. We as a country are better than this. Milwaukee is better than this.”  

Hate crimes increase during the Trump era, especially for Latinxs.

According to LA Weekly, during Donald Trump’s 2015 presidential campaign alone hate crimes against Latinxs in Los Angeles had increased 69 percent by 2016. Nationally, hate crimes against Latinos increased roughly 18 percent in 2018, according to the LA Times.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes and groups nationally, reported in February that hate groups have reached a record high in 2018 of 1,020 hate groups— “following three consecutive years of decline near the end of the Obama administration.” 

“Rather than trying to tamp down hate, as presidents of both parties have done, President Trump elevates it – with both his rhetoric and his policies. In doing so, he’s given people across America the go-ahead to act on their worst instincts,” said Heidi Beirich, director of the SPLC’s Intelligence Project. 

It Started As An Attack On Migrants But California’s Prop 187 Helped Shape California’s Political Identity Today

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It Started As An Attack On Migrants But California’s Prop 187 Helped Shape California’s Political Identity Today

Bruce Huff / LA Times Archive

Today is the 25th anniversary of California voters passage of Proposition 187 which denied public service to immigrants without legal status. The prevailing legacy of Prop 187 should be a point of pride for California Latinxs who successfully overturned a scathing anti-immigrant measure. According to LAist, it “remains one of the most divisive measures in state history, and the battle over its passage ultimately reshaped California politics.”

The policy denied public health care and all education from elementary school to college to undocumented immigrants. Under Prop 187, state and local agencies had to report any immigrants who did not fulfill residency criteria to state and federal authorities.

When the initiative entered the ballot on November 8, 1994, it passed with 59% in favor. Following an uphill legal battle, it was declared unconstitutional in 1997 by a federal judge. Despite its horrid attack on the immigrant community, the battle to dismantle the proposition is what shifted California from a beacon of conservatism to a reliably blue state today. 

25 years ago, California officials concocted a plan to blame immigrants for a recent state recession. 

Following a state recession, in 1994, that cost California thousands of jobs, Republican Assemblyman Dick Mountjoy, an accountant and a political team came up with the ballot measure nicknamed “Save Our State.” Mountjoy’s measure said Californians suffered “economic hardship” because of undocumented immigrants using public services. 

Under the extreme initiative, anyone who wasn’t “lawfully admitted for a period of time” in the United States would be denied social services and education. Children would be kicked out of public schools after 90 days if their parents could not prove they were lawfully in the U.S. Moreover, teachers, health care providers, and law enforcement would be forced to survey their neighbors and report any individuals they believed to be undocumented to federal immigration agencies. 

These xenophobic provisions were alleged to “save money” for California. Prop 187 came during Republican Governor Pete Wilson’s re-election campaign, which was losing in the polls. Wilson was already using anti-immigrant rhetoric in his campaign ads, thus supporting Prop 187 was a no-brainer for the troubled governor. 

Latinx begin to organize against Prop 187.

During a debate, Wilson made it clear he had a zero-tolerance policy when it came to undocumented immigrants when he was asked if he would call INS on a second-grader.  

“I make no apology for putting California children first…Yes, those children who are in the country illegally deserve an education, but the government that owes it to them is not in Sacramento or even in Washington. It is in the country from which they have come, Wilson said

The same day 70,000 people, many Latinxs, marched in opposition to Prop 187. According to a Baltimore Sun report from the rally, at the time, it was the largest demonstration the state had ever seen. 

A graduate student, Angel Cervantes, organized 10,000 students from 30 LAUSD schools staged a walkout on November 2, 1994 — 6 days before the vote. 

“It was the biggest thing I had ever seen, probably one of the most life-changing empowering, moments,” Cervantes told the LA Times in 1994. “To see so many groups, so many organizations, so many banners, so many different Latin Americans… it was very powerful.”

Prop 187 passed — but it wouldn’t hold for long. 

Prop passed with 59 percent of voters approving it. But it was immediately challenged in court by seven groups, five of the lawsuits would make it through. Court Judge Mariana Pfaelzer issued a preliminary injunction blocking implementation on December 14, 1994. Despite appeals by the state, by 1996 President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform law would only strengthen the legal opposition to Prop 187. 

“Judge Pfaelzer ruled that the measure was unconstitutional in Nov. 1997, and almost two years later, in Jul. 1999, Proposition 187 was effectively overturned via federal mediation,” according to LAist. 

The fight against Prop 187 would solidify a better, stronger Democratic electorate — including a coalition of Latinxs.

The Republican-backed Prop 187 solidified for many Latinxs of the time that the GOP was an anti-immigrant and anti-Latinx party, causing many to flee toward the Democrats. These new Latinx Democrats would put Latinxs in elected offices in the years to come and shift California left. 

A report by Latino Decisions found that from 1994 to 2004, 1.8 million new voters, 66 percent of which were Latinx and 23 percent of which were Asian, registered in California. Today roughly 80 percent of elected positions in California belong to Democrats. 

The fight against Prop 187 unified Latinxs and other immigrants in a way the state had never seen. It forever changed the demographics of California politics and proved Latinxs were a valuable electorate with the power to transform.

A Student Filmed Her Teacher In Blackface And Now The Video Has Gone Viral And The Teacher Is On Leave

Things That Matter

A Student Filmed Her Teacher In Blackface And Now The Video Has Gone Viral And The Teacher Is On Leave

@karrington_kk / Twitter

A student’s video of her teacher wearing blackface to class to appear as the rapper Common on Halloween went viral. The teacher from California has since been placed on leave, according to BuzzFeed News

The clip circulated on Twitter after 16-year-old Karrington Kenney shared video footage. In the 23-second video, the teacher enacts a scene from Common’s Microsoft AI commercial for his students in the class. Kenney told BuzzFeed News the video came from a friend whose mother is also a teacher at Milpitas Unified School District where the incident occurred. 

The school told BuzzFeed they would not release the name of the teacher because it was a “confidential personnel matter.” 

Kenney shares the video of teacher with blackface on Twitter.

“Sooooooooo… one of our WHITE teachers at MHS yesterday decided to paint his face so look like Common the rapper yesterday,” Kenney tweeted. “The school just told him to clean up…”

In the video, not only is the teacher painted in dark brown makeup but it is much darker than Common’s actual skin color.

“With A.I. Microsoft technology, the future is up to you,”  he says attempting to speaking with an offensive black accent, while Common speaks much differently.  

“We decided to post this to bring this to the eye of public,” Kenney said. “He genuinely thought it was okay to come to school like this.”

Kenney said the incident hurt especially because there aren’t many black people at her school. 

“He’s a white male, so he came to school with his face painted and he tried to act as if he was the rapper,” Kenney told  KTVU. “To see that he really thought that was O.K. and it was a joke — it really hurts, especially being one of the handful of black people that we have at our school,”

Officials call for an investigation of the incident. 

Chris Norwood, the president of the school board in Milpitas, called for an investigation of the “insensitive” act. 

“As an African-American man, the history of blackface reminds me of the cruelty, hatred and fear my parents and people of African ancestry have dealt with in the past and still experience today around the world,” Norwood told the New York Times. “Unfortunately, blackface still permeates global society today through social media, comedy and fashion.”

The school releases a statement, calling it “insensitive.” 

School officials released a statement condemning the racist act to parents and faculty. 

“It hurts to know that this type of cultural insensitivity and lack of cultural awareness still hovers in the background,” the superintendent of the Milpitas Unified School District Cheryl Jordan and school principal Francis Rojas said in a statement. 

“We are committed to strengthening our school environment through culturally relevant and respectful education designed to address prejudice and racism so that we can prevent bullying and harassment. Blackface paint has a historical and present-day connotation of racism that demeans those of African ancestry. The act was disparaging to our students, parents, colleagues and the Milpitas community we serve.”

This isn’t the first time a teacher has been put on leave due to a racist act. 

In October, a Pennsylvania middle school teacher was placed on administrative leave after a viral Facebook video showed her call someone the N-word and using derogatory language. A video shows Renee Greeley confronting a parent in the school parking lot. 

“Because you’re black.” she tells the man who she insists is on welfare after he told he made six figures. “Always looking to milk the system. And you see me, a white woman, so you think I’ve got money.” 

Greeley then called the man the N-word and other expletives. The school administration promptly placed her on administrative leave without pay. 

“It’s got to stop,” District Superintendent Daniel P. McGarry told USA Today. “This rhetoric and this language and the way the people feel and the way they communicate has to stop. It’s destroying the country. It’s destroying (the) country and we’re going to be the place that’s going to prove to people that it can be done the right way.” 

Within the same week of this incident in Pennsylvania, a Virginia teacher was fired after she used a racial slur against her student. 

“She called him a ni**let. She called the student a ni**let. She went on and there were other words and terms expressed out loud,” one parent told NBC 12. “I’m concerned for the culture that’s within the school. I’m concerned about who we have in the classroom.”

As long as the President is comfortable using racist language and tropes in his rhetoric, citizens will continue to follow his lead.