LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Friday he was “disappointed” that the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office has reportedly declined to prosecute an alleged hate incident that happened last month in Diamond Bar during a “Stop Asian Hate” rally.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Villanueva alleged that the DA’s office said its decision was based on a “lack of sufficient evidence.”READ MORE: Big Push To Hire Continues As Companies Consider Incentives To Get More Workers
I am disappointed charges were not filed by the DA’s office for “Lack of Sufficient Evidence,” though video clearly depicts the acts by the suspect contrary to his statement of being “scared.” His social media posts further confirm his intentions. This should be heard in court! pic.twitter.com/x0eO0jgwWT
— Alex Villanueva (@LACoSheriff) April 9, 2021
Cell phone video from the March 21 rally shows a multi-racial group of demonstrators crossing Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue at about noon when a man starts yelling anti-Asian and anti-Black slurs. In the group were a 32-year-old Asian woman and a 16-year-old Black girl.
According to the department, the man drove through a red light at the intersection while yelling racial epithets and made an illegal u-turn driving between the crowd. Witnesses said the driver told them that he would be back.
Another video shows the man, described only at a white man in his 50s, pulling over and getting out of his car after making that illegal u-turn and again hurling racial epithets at the crowd before driving away.
Rhonda Hampton, a psychologist who organized the protest, said people have hurled racial insults at her numerous times while taking a walk on her lunch break.READ MORE: KCRW Postpones July, August Summer Nights Events 'Out Of Caution' As COVID Cases Climb
“And because we let it go, that is why it’s continuing,” she said. “And I am not going to shut up.”
But the bigger issue for Hampton is that the D.A.’s office was not the one to announce that charges were not being filed.
“That he does not even make a comment to the community to say, ‘Hey, I did my due diligence, I did everything I can to investigate,” she said.
Vicky, who was also at the protest, said Asian communities were more likely to let hate speech roll off their backs to avoid a larger issue.
“I guess that’s the culture of here in America,” she said.
But, Vicky said, letting this driver off the hook was sending a disheartening message to the victims of hate crimes.
“We got freedom of speech, which is a huge freedom, and it’s almost like it’s bigger than anything,” she said. “Bigger than our lives.”
According to LASD, the case was initially investigated as an alleged hate incident and not an alleged hate crime, because there was no injury or property damage.MORE NEWS: Man Killed In South LA Shooting, Suspect Sought
The DA’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.