Clifton Blackwell, 61, of Milwaukee, was arrested Saturday and is awaiting formal charges for throwing acid on a victim in an apparent hate crime outside a restaurant near South 13th Street and West Cleveland Avenue that has made national news.
Muhad Villalaz, 42, sustained second-degree burns to his face in a confrontation where Blackwell accused him of being in the country illegally during. Villalaz is an American citizen who immigrated from Peru as a child.
“The feeling was burning and I tried to defend myself but I couldn’t, because I couldn’t open my eyes,” Muhad Villalaz told WISN in Milwaukee. “I think I pissed him off because I told him, ‘This is my country. This isn’t your country. Everyone here is from somewhere else.'”
The attack comes during a time when the United States has seen a spike in hate crimes directed at immigrants. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the anger towards people from other countries is being fueled by President Donald Trump’s rhetoric.
“This is not what happens in a just society and one of my biggest concerns is this type of racial, verbal attack and now physical attack is condoned at the highest level of government in our country, when you see something like this happen,” Barrett said in a statement. “This anger toward people from other countries is being fed by our president and by his followers and what we’re seeing here now, what we saw over the weekend, was a manifestation of that anger. We as a nation, as a community, have to take a step back and realize we’re all here together and when you have disagreements, and there was a disagreement and there will be conversations about the cause of the disagreement and what happened, but you don’t begin don’t begin, the conversation with a racial slur and end it by throwing acid in somebody’s face. That just does not happen in this society. And I don’t ever want to see that happen again anywhere on this planet.”