Alan Dale Covington, 50, faces four counts of aggravated assault, in addition to three counts of weapon and drug possession. Covington, a black American, was not charged, according to Salt Lake City jail records, with hate crimes despite having shouted “I hate Mexicans!” before beating a Mexican immigrant and his son in Utah. No hate crime has been ascribed to Covington because Utah classifies only misdemeanour assault as a hate crime. No one has been convicted of hate crime in the two decades since the state law has been applicable. 

Authorities allege that Covington went to the tire shop owned by the Mexican-American family in Salt Lake City last week. Shouting repeatedly, “I hate Mexicans,”  “I am going to kill someone,” and "I’m here to kill a Mexican,” Covington is alleged to have beaten both father Jose Lopez, 52, and son Luis Lopez, 18, with a 5-foot metal pole. Covington is alleged to have asked them if they work for the "Mexican Mafia." Jose Lopez is an immigrant to the United States, and has own his store for about four years. After meting out the beating, Covington allegedly told the elder Lopez, "I'm going to be back and I'm going to kill you."

Both of the Lopez men were hospitalized for their injuries. The elder man received eight stitches in his arm, while his back was also injured. The son was hospitalized in serious condition after being knocked out by a blow to the head. The younger man, according to a GoFundMe page set up by the family, was subjected to a “three hour surgery to place a titanium plate from the right side of his face to his nose to be able to attach the bones and keep his eyeball in place.” Donors have surpassed the initial fundraising goal of $20,000 and have donated over $53,000. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Veronica Lopez said, “They’re very shaken up.” Telling the newspaper, “My family feels targeted,” she said that the Lopez family is disappointed that the attack has not been defined a hate crime. “It makes my blood boil. What do they want next? Do they want him to kill someone to see that he’s dangerous?”

Covington has a criminal record, having spent time in prison on charges of assault and domestic violence. According to Salt Lake City police, Covington may have been under the influence of narcotics. He may also have “mental health issues.” According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Detective Greg Wilking said of Covington, “He wasn’t really based in reality. We don’t want to ignore a hate crime if it’s a hate crime, but we don’t want to make it a hate crime if there’s not that aspect of it.” However, District Attorney Sam Gill, who is in charge of Covington’s case, told BuzzFeed News, “I as a state prosecutor cannot give them a measure of justice proportionate to the injury that they’re feeling and that truly is an injustice.”

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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