A Texas man was sentenced on Thursday to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to assaulting an Asian family he blamed for COVID in the early days of the pandemic.
Jose Gomez, 21, on March 14, 2020, violently assaulted an Asian family of three at a Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas, deeming them a “threat” because he assumed they were Chinese, “from the country that disease began to spread around the Department of Justice said in a statement.
He pleaded guilty to three counts of committing a hate crime in February.
Gomez admitted in his plea that he had followed the father and his children, ages 6 and 2, through the store. Then he picked up a serrated steak knife that was on sale, bent the blade so that the sharp part was facing out, and punched the father in the face.
Gomez then took an 8-inch knife from the store and cut the 6-year-old’s face. The knife entered close to his right eye, slit his right ear and sliced right around the back of his skull, prosecutors said.
Gomez said in his plea that he wanted to kill the 6-year-old boy and that he attacked a white shop assistant who prevented him from doing so.
While being held to the ground by the employee, Gomez yelled at the family to “get out of America”.
The incident was one of a lot racist, unprovoked to attack about Asian people in recent years. Some of the victims were believed to be of Chinese descent by their attackers and accused of causing the COVID pandemic; At the time, then-President Donald Trump often referred to the coronavirus as a “china virus”, fuel racist and xenophobic fears.
“Pandemic-driven and racially motivated acts of violence are deplorable crimes, and the Justice Department stands poised to use our hate crime laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. in the statement announcing The Sentence of Gomez. “Hate crimes targeting Asian Americans have skyrocketed during the pandemic and need to be addressed. All people deserve to feel safe and secure in their communities, regardless of race, color or national origin.”
Official statistics on hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are not always accurate; a report found that AAPI people were less comfortable reporting such incidents to authorities than other races. However, Stop AAPI Hate, an organization that tracks reports of hate and discrimination incidents against AAPI people, found that between March 2020 and December 2021 — the most recent data available — over 10,000 reported hate incidents against AAPI people.