“People come here from other countries for a better life. The only people who have been here longer than anyone else are the Native Americans.”
These are the words that Mahud Villalaz, 42 and a U.S. citizen, spoke in response to an aggressive 61-year-old man when he was accused of being undocumented in the United States. For his efforts, Villalaz had battery acid thrown on his face in what can only be described as a vicious hate crime.
In his own recollection, a tearful Villalaz recounted how what began as a minor disagreement over a parking space escalated to the Milwaukee resident being accused of living in the United States illegally.
“You cannot park here. You are doing something illegal,” Villalaz recalled the man saying. What followed was an increasingly ubiquitous anti-immigrant statement: “Why did you come here and invade my country?”
Villalaz recalled ignoring the man and moving his truck one block forward in an effort to avoid conflict. However, as Villalaz returned to the restaurant where he was dining, the man continued his hateful barrage. When Villalaz told his harrasser that he was, in fact, a citizen, and that the only people who weren’t illegal in the United States were Native Americans, the man “got mad.”
It was at this point that the attacker tossed battery acid at Villalaz, sending him tumbling back as the attacker advanced menacingly on his unsuspecting victim. The entirety of the incident caught on a nearby security camera.
Villalaz suffered second degree burns and the attacker was, thankfully, apprehended soon after the attack.
The Writing’s on the Wall
We’ve heard it all before, folks. The statistics on how divided we have become as a nation. How even a shared love of this country isn’t enough for us to coexist or engage in constructive debate. But this particular interaction concluded in the most horrifically baffling way.
It’s one thing to witness a verbal tirade when the racists don’t get their way at their local CVS or something. We’ve seen that time and time again since the unimaginably divisive 2016 election, and the election of a president who gleefully encourages vitriolic rhetoric against anyone who doesn’t fit his constrained idea of an ” authentic American.”
This time around, however, what we witnessed was hate that manifested in the most evil way. This criminal chose to maim his victim despite the fact that the source of the conflict had been settled.
It is absolutely despicable that someone would harbor that much hate, to be that dedicated to harming someone. It really does demand that we stop and consider the lengths to which one would go to manifest their hatred.
And that is the essence of what’s truly evil about this particular case. Not only did someone make a conscious decision to spew racist abuse, they chose to attempt aggravated battery because they didn’t like the look of someone on the street. This criminal chose to follow Villalaz as he was re-parking his car in order to manifest his hate and ignorance through aggravated assault. It is absolutely despicable that someone would harbor that much hate, to be that dedicated to harming someone. It really does demand that we stop and consider the lengths to which one would go to manifest their hatred.
As should be the case, the Mayor of Milwaukee pulled no punches when it came to who he holds responsible for this hateful attack. In a press conference on the matter, Mayor Tom Barrett said that this “type of racial verbal attack and now physical attack is condoned in the highest level of government in our country,” referring to the White House.
“This anger towards people of other countries is being fed by our president — and by his followers. What we saw over the weekend is a manifestation of that anger,” the mayor continued.
The Time for Complacency Is Over
The scariest part of this whole situation is that the increasing number of racist tirades we’ve been witnessing led to this moment, where a man thought he had the right to maim someone for any odd reason.
As basic as it might seem to state, it is of the utmost importance that we pull American society from the brink of this distasteful trend by continually and tirelessly calling out the hateful rhetoric which encourages attacks like the one in Milwaukee. Now is not the time for complacency.
Because if there is one thing that parties on both ends of the political spectrum should be able to agree upon, it’s that no one should fear for their lives as they’re walking down the street.