MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) - The White House released a statement Tuesday calling it “disgusting” for Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett to suggest President Trump is partly to blame for anti-immigrant acts like Friday’s acid attack on the city’s south side.
Barrett said he did not know what was going through the perpetrator’s mind before the attack but did say in Monday’s news conference, “This anger toward people from other countries is being fed by our president and by his followers.”
A White House spokesman countered Tuesday, saying the administration has condemned racism, bigotry, and violence in all forms, reduced violent crime and made communities safer.
“The only person responsible for this heinous act is the person who committed it,” Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said. “And it’s disgusting the Mayor of Milwaukee would rather point the finger at the President of the United States for political reasons instead [of] responsibly confronting the violence in his own community.”
Mahud Villalaz of Milwaukee, a U.S. citizen born in Peru, told Spectrum News 1 he argued outside a restaurant over a parking space before a 61-year-old white man attacked him with acid, leaving burns on his face.
The alleged attacker was booked in Milwaukee County Jail on Tuesday. Local leaders and the National League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) have called for District Attorney John Chisholm to file hate crime charges. Villalaz alleges his attacker harassed him about his race, asking why he “invaded” the man’s country.
Tammy Rivera, executive director of the Southside Organizing Committee, told Spectrum News 1 the local immigrant community will become more vigilant about targeted harassment and hate crimes after the widespread coverage of this attack.
“What we hope is that Mahud and his family get the information and the resources to heal, and this makes us a stronger, more unified community,” Rivera said.
The FBI recommends anyone experiencing or witnessing a hate crime call 911 immediately, then report the incident to the FBI.
The man accused of Friday's acid attack has not yet been charged.