The Democratic mayor of Milwaukee on Monday blamed President Donald Trump’s angry rhetoric for an acid attack on an American citizen who was born in Peru.
This “type of racial verbal attack and now physical attack is condoned in the highest level of government in our country,” Mayor Tom Barrett told reporters Monday, according to Wisconsin Public Radio. “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.”
A 61-year-old man was arrested by Milwaukee police after the Friday attack on Mahud Villalaz that followed an argument over a parking spot. The man, who was unknown to Villalaz, told him to “go back to your country” and said “you came here to invade,” according to the victim.
The attack was captured on a surveillance camera. Villalaz suffered second-degree burns to his face and problems with his vision. Authorities are investigating the attack as a possible hate crime.
Barrett called the attack an “obvious” hate crime that shouldn’t occur “on this planet. I never want to see anything like this again in my life.”
He told CBS: “I look at this in the context of what’s going on right now in our country, where you’ve got the president of the United States who on almost on a daily basis seems to try to create more division in this country ... My concern is that more and more people feel that because the president is saying it, that this is OK. It’s not OK. It’s horrible; it’s horrific.”
He added: “Everybody knows what’s happening. It’s because the president’s talking about it on a daily basis that people feel they have a license to go after Hispanic people.”
We “have to do better than this,” Barrett said. “That means leaders in all levels of government, starting at the White House, have to just tone it down.”
The White House has not responded to Barrett’s remarks.
The mayor’s comments to CBS can be seen in the video below: