Things That Matter

Clifton Blackwell Is Now on Trial for Throwing Acid on a Latino Man

Milwaukee native Clifton Blackwell, 64, is now on trial for throwing acid on a Latino man’s face outside a restaurant back in November 2019, leaving him with second-degree burns on his face and neck, plus injuries to his left eye. A racially motivated attack, Blackwell allegedly yelled racist expletives before throwing acid from a metal bottle.

Blackwell is now being charged with first-degree reckless injury, and the case is being treated as a hate crime by prosecutors. 

The 64-year-old approached Peruvian Mahud Villalaz near restaurant Taqueria La Sierrita at night, right after Villalaz had parked his car. Villalaz told investigators that Blackwell came up to him as he was walking up to the restaurant entrance, telling him he could not park there because of a bus stop. The Latino man went back to his truck to move it to another spot, and walked back — never expecting he would be attacked.

Blackwell called Villalaz racist expletives, asking him: “Why did you invade my country?” and “Why don’t you respect my laws?” The Milwaukee man then said, “Go back — go back (expletive),” and called Villalaz “an illegal.”

After the racist confrontation, Blackwell took out a metal bottle filled with acid from his bag. He threw the liquid on the victim’s face, causing second-degree burns. Rushed to St. Mary’s Hospital Burn Center, a hospital PH test indicated that “an acidic substance” had caused it. Meanwhile, police recall how even Villalaz’s clothing was burned by the acid. 

Restaurant cameras recorded the vicious, disheartening attack. Meanwhile, investigators found several suspicious substances in Blackwell’s home, such as “muriatic acid, Kleen-Out sulfuric acid, Kleen-Out drain opener (100% lye), and Parkerizing cleaner.”

While the trial was delayed several times because of COVID-19 protocols, many people following the case are hoping Blackwell receives due punishment. The Milwaukee man was offered a settlement, but he refused — now, Villalaz is sharing his side of the story by taking a stand at the trial.

Villalaz described how the acid attack was “really painful, really burning, really painful,” and how Blackwell told him “horrible things” like “Go back to your country. Why don’t you obey my laws? You’re illegal.” Meanwhile, Villalaz explained, “I think I pissed him off because I told him, ‘This is my country. This isn’t your country. Everyone here is from somewhere else.'” 

While Villalaz asserted, “I never touched him, and never had any intention to do that. My intention was just to go to the restaurant and have my dinner,” Blackwell’s legal is saying the Milwaukee man acted in “self-defense.”

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