Clifton Blackwell is 61 years old and he was arrested for throwing battery acid on a Hispanic man who says his attacker asked him, Why did you come here and invade my country? Mahmud Villalaz, 42, suffered second-degree burns to his face.
Clifton A. Blackwell, a military veteran whose mother said had struggled with post-traumatic stress. In the report, Mahmud Villalaz told that the attack happened after a man confronted him about how he had parked his car and accused him of being in the US illegally. Villalaz, 42, is a US citizen who immigrated from Peru.
The attack comes amid a spike in hate crimes directed at immigrants that researchers and experts on extremism say are tied to mainstream political rhetoric. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett expressed shock at the attack and blamed President Donald Trump for inciting hatred against minorities. The president has repeatedly referred to migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border as an invasion.
Jacqueline P. Blackwell, 83, of California, a psychologist and retired administrator with the San Jose Unified School District, said her son “needed to have some help and decided to move to Milwaukee” to get it. She said she had not been in touch with him recently and had not heard anything about his arrest. “I was comfortable that he was getting good care with the VA,” she said.
“Once you’ve been in the service, you look at the world a different way,” she said, noting she and her husband had also served in the military. “I don’t know if people can understand if they haven’t been there.” Blackwell spent at least some time in northern Wisconsin. In 2006, he was charged in Rusk County with two counts each of pointing a firearm at someone and false imprisonment.
Blackwell’s brother, 63-year-old Arthur Blackwell of Evergreen, Colorado, told The Associated Press on Monday that Blackwell was not a confrontational person. He says his brother served nearly four years in the US Marines. State court records show Blackwell was convicted in a 2006 Rusk County case of false imprisonment and pointing a gun at a person. Details aren’t available online, but the Journal Sentinel reported the case involved Blackwell confronting men who had come onto his farm property tracking a deer.
Villalaz told reporters on Saturday that he was headed into a Mexican restaurant for dinner when a man approached him and told him, You cannot park here. You are doing something illegal. He said that the man also accused him of being in the US illegally and of invading the country. Villalaz’s sister told The Associated Press on Monday that her brother believes the man was prepared and wanted to attack someone.
Later, She said that her brother is recovering. She said the doctor who treated him said it helped that he immediately washed his face several times inside a restaurant. His family created a GoFundMe page to cover his medical expenses.
#BREAKING – Video shows the moment a man was hit with battery acid. Police arrested the culprit & call it a hate crime because the victim, who is Latino, says before he was hit by the white male suspect he called him “illegal” STORY: https://t.co/WAiX44Sx9d pic.twitter.com/pb2agxS6Go
— Chernéy Amhara (@CherneyAmharaTV) November 3, 2019
In an Interview, Villalaz said “I looked at him, and said, ‘What are you talking about?’” Villalaz said of how the attack unfolded, describing how he moved his car one block forward. He got out of his truck waiting to go into the restaurant, and the man was still waiting there. “Why you come here illegally? Why you come here to invade my country?”
WISN-TV spoke to Blackwell’s roommate, Mohammed Ishtiwi, who told the television station that the accusations shocked him but that officers had taken Blackwell’s computer and books from the apartment. Ishtiwi told WISN that Blackwell, who is retired, “keeps to himself but was on his computer a lot.” A neighbor told the television station that Blackwell could be “very rude, confrontational, very aggressive, so it doesn’t surprise me,” adding that he had allegedly broken her door once.
Ishtiwi also talked to Channel 6 in Milwaukee. He told that television station that he felt Blackwell was “a prejudiced person” who had changed recently, becoming “antisocial and short-tempered.” He also told the TV station that Blackwell told him he was “in trouble. They are coming for me.” According to Heavy.com