Thursday, April 05, 2007

Fiance Believes It Was A Hate Crime

The fiance of a South Bend man who was nearly killed when a co-worker struck him in the head with a metal pole because he was making "kissing gestures" and "blinking his eyes" at him believes the attack was motivated by race. The Hispanic victim, Jose Contretras, speaks very little English and often used hand signs and whistled to communicate with his co-workers according to today's report by the South Bend Tribune's Alicia Gallegos. Contretras' fiance' is particularly angered that his attacker is already back on the street. He was released after being charged with felony battery and posting a mere $1,000 bond. Gallegos writes:

Hazel Salinas remembers tearfully looking down at her fiancee Jose Contretras last week before he was whisked away into surgery.

The beating Contretras allegedly suffered at the hands of a co-worker had cracked his skull, doctors told them, causing bits of bone to lodge in his brain.

The sight of dried blood covering the man's clothes lingered in her mind as she waited for word on his condition, she recalled Wednesday.

Amazingly, Contretras improved dramatically after doctors removed the particles and closed his skull. He was able to return home this week.

Despite relief that her fiancee is mending from the near-death experience, Salinas and her friends say they're angry that his accused assailant already is back on the streets. James Hinkle, 54, was charged with two counts of class C felony battery of Contretras while the two were at work Friday.

Hinkle was out of jail the day after the incident on $1,000 bond, according to jail records.

Hinkle told police he hit Contretras with a metal pole because he was annoying him, according to police reports, but Contretras said through a translator Wednesday that he had done nothing to the man.

Salinas believes the beating may have been racially motivated, and she believes Hinkle should face a stiffer penalty considering the extent of Contretras' injuries.

"He could've killed him," Salinas said during an interview at her home. "Even if he was winking his eye, is that cause for somebody to try to kill somebody?"

The police are still taking the position no hate crime occurred, whether the attack was related to victim's race or perceived sexual orientation, which means it won't be reported as a hate crime under Indiana's hate crime reporting statute.

Two of the victim's co-workers couldn't understand the attack. "Employees Debbie Brocklehurst and her daughter Kathy Hollingsworth ran to Contretras' aid as soon as they saw him lying on the ground." "He wasn't moving," Brocklehurst remembered by phone Wednesday. "There was a lot of blood." "Both women were shocked that Hinkle would strike the man for no apparent reason." "Because of the language barrier, Brocklehurst said Contretras often whistled and used hand signs to communicate with workers who didn't speak Spanish." "Brocklehurst said it was just his way of communicating and no one else seemed to mind."

Contretras was even more confused by the attack than his co-workers were. "Contretras said Wednesday that he had never interacted with Hinkle before and that he doesn't remember exactly what happened." "I'm mad, 'cause I didn't do anything to him," he said. "I didn't even talk to him." "I want to know why he did this to me," Contretras said. "He did not have (any) reason."

On the question of whether the crime may have constituted a hate crime, Gallegos received this response from St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak's office:

There is no Indiana Criminal Statute that exists that designates a racially motivated crime as a separate offense, nor is there any Indiana Statute that enhances or aggravates an existing criminal offense or its penalties if the criminal activity is racially motivated.

Did you read that Rep. Ryan Dvorak? Let's take care of this problem so your father will have a statute to prosecute such crimes as a hate crime offense like prosecutors do in all but 5 of our United States. Also, Prosecutor Dvorak, ask the South Bend police to report this as a hate crime as the department is supposed to do under Indiana law. Perhaps the department needs a little primer on what constitutes a hate crime for purposes of reporting under the law.


Anonymous said...

I am not going to visit this blog anymore. It is awful what happened to this guy. The idiot that did this was nuts, but clearly you don't understand how bad things are for the Joe Blow working guy when it comes to the Mexican invasion.

I understand why they come, but they are being exploited by employers and lawyers and are destroying the lower middle class, with the blessing of the government.

Since your practice focuses on illegals, and I don't see how illegals "Advance Indiana" you should change the name of the blog to "Advance Gary"

Jay C. Howard said...

Bye anonymous. By the way, did your family come to North America through proper channels? Mine didn't, and they were here before Indiana was a state, and before the USA even existed. There are tens of thousands of Americans living illegally overseas in Europe and Asia. Shouldn't you be frothing at the mouth about that, too?

Jay C. Howard said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

anonymous 11:34,
don't let the door hit you in the ass.

Wilson46201 said...

That anonymous nobody will not be missed. Vaya con Dios, amigo! Of course, it will covertly return again to throw mud and namecall. The Biblical injunction about bearing false witness means naught to such prevaricators.

Leaving aside the issue of hate crimes, I am aghast that such a massively damaging attack would result in the perp walking on a puny $1000 bond. The guy is clearly dangerous to others... Scary!

Anonymous said...

With the twists and turns regularly espoused on blogs like this one, is it really any wonder that some people might need a "primer" on the meaning of a "hate crime?" Perhaps that primer could start with the word "consistency" and Gary Welsh could be the first enrollee.

Look back on the earlier posts on this issue and you will see that Gary was implying the "hate crime" argument because he thought the victim was gay. Read the comments from this blog's many supporters and you will see the exact same thing. Now we learn that the victim is a heterosexual (even engaged to be married!). But voila!, he is a minority. So, Gary gets to keep with his mantra, albeit for a completely different reason.

Seems to me that the new definition of "hate crime" is any violence that occurs against anybody who is not a white male heterosexual. As has been previously posted, Gary has already given up on the notion that "hate" requires us to understand the motivations for such action. "Hate" is now defined, according to Gary, by the involvement of anybody other than a white male heterosexual.

Yep, that seems real clear to me.

Anonymous said...

be real anon 1:11. did you expect the poor victim's fiance to say she thought sexual orientation was the reason for the attack?

Jay C. Howard said...

Allow me to give you a primer on blog etiquette: posting anonymously equals cowardice.
Gary's a big boy and I'm sure your anonymous rants mean nothing to him.

Anonymous said...

I may be wrong but, the guy who got attacked doesn't speak english. maybe he is illegal. so who gave him rights to complain and point fingers as for a hate crime. now that he is in an americann hospital getting quality care at us taxpayers expense. maybe it is time to call immigration and ship the illegal bastard back where he came from

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 1:11, your comments expose the bigotry you don't want associated with your name. It is the job of the police and prosecutor to investigate the facts of each crime. Part of that investigation is to determine, if possible, the offender's motive for committing the crime. The logical inference to be drawn from a guy picking up a metal pole and whacking a guy over the head in response to the victim "blinking his eyes" and "making kissing gestures" to the attacker is that he was so repulsed by the idea of another man acting that way towards him whether the guy was joking or not. As the prior comment notes, the fiance would be reluctant to identify that as the reason, although she knows that's what happened before he was struck. It is also possible the attacker perceived the gestures implied he was gay. There were no facts reported by the police which supports the attack based on the victim's race. Perhaps his fiance has learned additional facts to support her claim. By the way, it is not necessary the victim actually be gay or Hispanic--only that the attacker carried out the act because of his perception that the victim was gay or Hispanic. And anon, if a Hispanic guy beats up a straight white guy because he's a straight white guy, he too can be charged with a hate crime. Stop parroting Micah Clar. It seems the attacker has been charged with the lowest possible charge for such a crime which nearly took the victim's life. It is the job of the police and investigator to learn the facts to determine the appropriate charge. If the attacker had picked up a gun and shot the victim instead of a metal pole, I don't think there would be any question that he would be charged with attempted murder.

Anonymous said...

Let me try to add a little South Bend perspective.

Knowing the general area where the assault ocurred, I knew from the first news brief that it was a factory area. I strongly suspected that the victim was NOT a gay man.

Though it is possible that there could be a gay man crazy enough to openly hit on another man in a SB factory setting, it would be close to suicidal. SB, in case you missed the coverage of our own attempt at amending our HRO, is rather homphobic.My initial thoughts were that the man was probably not gay and was probably just acting like an idiot on the job. In that case, an appropriate response would have been to report his behavior to a supervisor, not bash him over the head with a pipe.

I agree that it probably was a hate crime. I don't know about it being racially motivated but, reading the first update, (Quoting from the SBT) "Both men reportedly were unloading a freight truck when Contretras began making "kissing gestures" and "blinking his eyes" at the suspect, who threatened to hurt him if he didn't stop, according to police reports.

When the victim continued, the suspect allegedly grabbed a metal pole and struck him in the back of the head."

Note that what appears to have set the suspect off was what he described as "kissing gestures" and "blinking his eyes". Yes. he was getting ticked before then, but according to the news report, he didn't actually threaten him nor attack him until that point.

Draw the lines and make your own conclusions. It seems to me that he reacted to what he seems to have perceived as a gay threat. At best, it was a lack of communication. At worst, it was a reaction to gay-baiting. Possibly, it was somewhere in between.

Either way, it was an action, appearing to be homphobia at its worst.

BTW - Here in St. Joe County we have appointed judges and the low bond is what we get for it. Pretty typical here.

Gary R. Welsh said...

Thanks for the local perspective, Rhonda.

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly it's amazing that any offenses are reported as hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation.

Just look at what regard Councilor and Police Officer Lincoln Plowman holds gays to in his posting on IndyUndercover:

"You must be one of the Corrections Officers that I had to fire for having homosexual sex with an inmate at the jail."

Personally I'd prefer that any employee having sex with inmates at the jail be fired.

Anonymous said...

So the victim was attacked based on his race alone?

Anonymous said...

"If the attacker had picked up a gun and shot the victim instead of a metal pole, I don't think there would be any question that he would be charged with attempted murder. "

Having had to deal with some really wierd folks, I have to say I can understand some people getting upset if some person started to blow kisses at them. If the person is doing this, in public and not a private setting, it would not surprise me one bit if the next action would be to expose and masturbate. This is similar to problems we have in some public restrooms. I personally do feel that a person is justified (to an extent) to stop another person from coming into contact with them. Semen can contain the deadly HIV and a person should have a right to defend themselves against having such a deadly virus coming into close contact with them. The amount of defense depends upon various factors. In this case, it is possible the guy just lost it. I really like how folks here want to "read" the offenders mind, they just "know" for a fact what he thought. No one has even thought of the possibility the guy just flipped. Maybe he could careless about gays, hispanics, women, etc.. Maybe he told this guy to knock it off and the guy just continued over and over so the offender just lost it? Since personal responsibility is dead, how much blame to we place on the victim? Like in the case of Wade Steffy, we can't blame the offender 100%. I am sure the defense will come up with some sort of childhood molestation cause for the "snap." Maybe the offender had been victimized by "illegals" and "Mexicans" (terms the defense will use) before, so that was the reason for the "snap?"

All I know is that by looking at that photo, the offender did snap and really worked this guy over.

Anonymous said...

"Just look at what regard Councilor and Police Officer Lincoln Plowman holds gays to in his posting on IndyUndercover:"

Do you have proof that Lincoln Plowman actually typed that? If I use George Bush, does that mean I am George Bush?

Anonymous said...

anon 10:45-Call Linc and ask him, he'll be glad to confirm he wrote that post on IndyU. I already have.