A Hispanic family in Utah says the rise of racial tensions under the Trump presidency is partly to blame after a man brutally attacked a father-son duo, leaving the son hospitalized with serious facial injuries.
Salt Lake City Police said Alan Covington walked into the Lopez family’s mechanic shop and attacked the two men with a metal rod on Tuesday, Nov. 27, ABC 4 reported. Witnesses reportedly heard Covington saying he wanted to “kill a Mexican person.”
The attack left Luis Lopez, 19, with a shattered cheekbone and eye socket, his family said in GoFundMe page set up to raise money for medical bills. His father Jose Lopez suffered severe bruising and required eight stitches.
Luis’ sister Veronica told the Salt Lake Tribune that the family has noticed a marked increase in racial slurs since President Donald Trump took office.
“My family feels targeted,” Veronica told the Salt Lake Tribune.
“You just hear more of it now,” she said in reference to racial slurs, adding that the family wasn’t surprised at the attack.
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Covington’s indictment reveals he told detectives that a Mexican prison gang had been after him for a decade and that he went into the Lopez family’s shop in search of gang members because “all of them know each other,” KUTV reported.
According to KUTV, police do not plan to pursue hate crime charges because they believed Covington has mental health issues and was under the influence of drugs at the time of the attack.
Trump has repeatedly tied Mexicans to violent gangs and said during his presidential campaign that many Mexicans who enter the U.S. bring drugs and crime and are rapists.