- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2019

A Wisconsin man who is accused of throwing acid on a Latino man last week and telling him to “go back” to his home country was charged Wednesday with a felony hate crime.

Clifton Blackwell, a white 61-year-old Milwaukee man, was charged with first-degree reckless injury in a hate crime with a dangerous weapon, The Washington Post reported.

He could face $100,000 in fines and 25 years, and an additional 10 years could be tacked on for brandishing the weapon.

Mahud Villalaz said in a news conference on Saturday, the day after the attack, that he believes he was the victim of a hate crime, claiming the suspect told him to “go back,” and asking: “Why did you come here and invade my country?”

Police said Mr. Villalaz — a Peruvian-born 42-year-old who immigrated to the U.S. and became a U.S. citizen in 2013 — parked his truck outside a Mexican restaurant when a man came up to him and criticized him for parking in a bus lane, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Mr. Villalaz said the man then asked why he “invaded” the U.S. and why he didn’t “respect my laws.” Even after Mr. Villalaz moved his truck, the suspect still engaged by calling him an “illegal” and telling him to “go back.”

Mr. Blackwell allegedly “got mad” when Mr. Villalaz brought up that “American Indians have been in the country the longest,” and everyone else “comes from somewhere first,” and that’s when Mr. Villalaz said the acid was tossed into his face, according to court filings viewed by The Post.

Mr. Villalaz was rushed to the hospital with second-degree burns on his face and neck.

“I believe [I] am a victim of a hate crime because [of] how he approached me telling me to ‘get out this country,’ ” Mr. Villalaz said to WISN. “This is pretty much a terrorist attack.”

“I feel scared being an American citizen,” he said during the news conference. “I feel scared that I cannot feel protected in my own country with my neighbors.”

Court documents state Mr. Blackwell was arrested after police found hydrochloric acid, bottles of sulfuric acid and two bottles of drain opener in his home. If he meets his $20,000 bail, he must wear an ankle monitor and be unable to access acid and large batteries.

City Alderman José Pérez slammed the attack as a “heinous crime that will have a long-term impact on the life of the victim” and blamed political figures for inspiring these types of attacks against minorities.

“We need those elected officials who are spreading racial hatred to knock off the rhetoric that is designed to divide us,” Mr. Pérez said. “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.”

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