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. 

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A Florida Doctor Is Being Charged with a Hate Crime After Assaulting a Latino Man at a Supermarket

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A Florida Doctor Is Being Charged with a Hate Crime After Assaulting a Latino Man at a Supermarket

Photos via MIAMI-DADE CORRECTIONS, Getty Images

It’s an unfortunate reality that Latinos face immense amounts of racism in America. Case in point: a Florida doctor is facing hate crime charges after assaulting a Latino man at a supermarket.

According to police, a 58-year-old woman followed a Latino man out to the parking lot, keyed his car, smashed his phone, and punched him–all the while hurling racially-charged insults at him.

The altercation happened on Jan. 20th at a Publix supermarket in Hialeah, Florida–a town with a large Latino population. It all started when the victim, an unnamed Latino man, asked Dr. Jennifer Susan Wright to maintain social distancing in Spanish. After she ignored him, the man repeated the question in English.

It was at this point that Dr. Wright, who is an anesthesiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center, became incensed and began muttering curse words under her breath. After the man left the grocery store, Dr. Wright followed him out to the parking lot.

She began to verbally berate him, calling him a “spic” and telling him “we should have gotten rid of you when we could.”

According to the police report, she also said: “This is not going to be Biden’s America, this is my America.” The woman then took her keys out an began to “stab the victim’s vehicle with her keys” while telling him to “go back to his country”.

The man took out his phone to call 911 and the woman allegedly punched him, causing him to drop his phone. When he bent over to pick his phone up, she allegedly kicked him and tried to stomp on his phone.

The woman fled before the police came, but she was arrested on Feb 12th at her home in Miami Springs.

The woman was initially charged with tampering with a victim, criminal mischief and battery with prejudice. The “hate crime” charge was later added, elevating the crime to a felony.

According to reports, Wright posted her $1000 bail and is now awaiting trial. Mount Sinai Medical Center released a statement saying that Dr. Wright is “no longer responsible for patient care” after assaulting a Latino man.

According to the Miami Herald, neighbors know Dr. Jennifer Wright as an ardent Trump supporter. Her social media pages are riddled with far-right, Pro-Trump memes and photos of her posing in a MAGA hat. She even uploaded a post that read: “It’s Okay To Be White.”

We can all agree that it’s “okay” to be white. It’s okay to be any race. We cannot, however, all agree that it’s okay to be a violent, racist bigot. We hope the victim has recovered and we hope Jennifer Wright will face justice.

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He Gave Away Free Oxygen To Those Who Needed It, Then People Burned Down His Home

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He Gave Away Free Oxygen To Those Who Needed It, Then People Burned Down His Home

Peru is being ravaged by a deadly second wave of the Coronavirus pandemic. Few parts of the country are as badly affected as the remote Amazonian villages in the northeast of the country and cities like Iquitos.

The country has been one of the worst hit by the pandemic. For several months last year, it topped the per capita death charts. Officially, 1.2 million have been infected here while 43,880 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

One man’s effort to help those who have been most impacted, has nearly cost him his life.

As Peru now faces a daily oxygen shortage of 100 tons, Peruvians are becoming desperate for whatever oxygen they can get their hands on. Oxygen mafias are rising up to steal oxygen products and sell them on the black market for obscene prices.

Juan Torres Baldeón is a good samaritan who has, by his own estiamte, donated free oxygen to 8,000 desperate families in the jungle city of Iquitos. With his generosity, he’s likely saved hundreds if not thousands of lives in the process. But his generosity has also come with risks.

It began with crooks infiltrating the long lines outside Baldeón’s warehouse. The problem became so severe that the police and the military had to be called in to maintain order.

“We only give oxygen to those with prescriptions,” Baldeón told VICE News. “Normally, just half a tank, unless the patient is really sick, because we have to ration what we have. But we kept finding people in the queue who didn’t have a prescription, and when you asked them the name of the patient, they didn’t know what to say.”

Then he began receiving threatening phone calls, demanding he surrender his entire lifesaving supply of oxygen or leave his city behind.

That was when the criminals, who Baldeón believes are a local cocaine cartel, made their move.

In late January, Baldeón had left his home to go to the gym but quickly had to return. When he got back home, his office/home and four others alongside it were on fire.

“They probably thought I was inside,” he told VICE. “There’s nothing left now, just ashes. I feel for my neighbors. They didn’t even have anything to do with the oxygen.”

Thanks to Covid-19, oxygen has become a necessity for so many.

From Lima to Mexico City, residents have been forced to stand in line for hours on end and search far-flung neighborhoods to refill their oxygen tanks.

Normally, refilling a 10,000 liter tank of oxygen would cost around 100 Sols ($27). But with Covid-19 forcing so many to seek care at home with supplemental oxygen, some are paying more than $1,000.

Baldeón isn’t the only person to be threatened over oxygen supplies.

In Peru’s capital city of Lima, a district mayor was forced to send his family abroad following death threats that he received after setting up a municipal oxygen plant and distributing the essential gas to needy families, including to those from outside his district.

Yet even outside of Peru, his family remain unsafe, and they have had to change hotels after their whereabouts were discovered by the criminals, who also threw a grenade at his house.

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