Utah state laws are preventing prosecutors from charging a man who attacked members of a Latino family at a Salt Lake City tire shop after yelling “I hate Mexicans” with a hate crime, according to Buzzfeed.
Alan Dale Covington, 50, was arrested after he allegedly attacked Jose Lopez and his 18-year-old son Luis Gustavo Lopez at the family’s tire shop on Tuesday, with a metal pipe, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
The attack left Luis Gustavo in an intensive care unit with a shattered cheekbone and eye socket and collapsed sinus and has had a titanium plate implanted on the right side of his face, the newspaper reported. His father, Luis, escaped the attack with eight stitches on his arm and a bruised back.
The family did not know Covington, who allegedly yelled “I hate Mexicans!” and “I’m here to kill a Mexican!” at the tire shop before the attack, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.
He was charged with two counts of aggravated assault and other weapons and drug charges, according to Buzzfeed, however not with hate crimes, which levy harsher penalties.
Utah’s hate crime laws, which have been around for more than a quarter-century, are considered essentially toothless and have never yielded a conviction because they do not include a list of protected groups. The laws also apply only to misdemeanor crimes, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Attempts to strengthen the statute have died in the state legislature for three straight years without a hearing.
Members of the Lopez family say that they blame the attack in part on rhetoric spouted by President Trump, who famously described Mexicans entering the United States as “rapists” and criminals.