- Milwaukee police arrested a 61-year-old white male for throwing acid on a Hispanic man after allegedly accusing him of “invading” the country.
- The victim, a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Peru, was left with severe burns on his face and neck, as well as damage to one eye.
- Local politicians and community leaders have condemned the attack and authorities are investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Police in Milwaukee, Wisconsin arrested a man suspected of throwing acid on a Hispanic man Friday, after allegedly accusing him of “invading” the country.
Authorities say the 61-year-old white male suspect is being investigated for a hate crime and is expected to face charges soon. Though authorities have not named him, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel identified the suspect as Clifton A. Blackwell, a convicted felon and military veteran.
The victim, Mahud Villalaz, said the attack happened when the man confronted him about how close he had parked to a bus stop as he was headed into a restaurant for dinner. “You cannot park here. You are doing something illegal,” he allegedly told Villalaz.
Villalaz said the man accused him of being in the U.S. illegally and of “invading” the country. Villalaz, 42, is a U.S. citizen who immigrated from Peru 19 years ago.
He said he looked back at his car and noticed that he was parked slightly over where he should have been, so he moved his truck one block forward. When he returned, the man was waiting for him with an open bottle, which Villalaz assumed was liquor.
Again the stranger accused him of being illegal and invading the country, telling him to go back to where he is from. Villalaz said he told the man “You don’t know my status. I’m a U.S. citizen too.” He said the man became especially angry when he told him that “everybody came from somewhere else here,” and added that Native Americans had been here the longest.
That’s when Villalaz says the man threw acid at him.
Surveillance video shows Villalaz turn his head as the liquid covered the left side of his face. At a press conference Monday, Villalaz explained that his face was “burning really bad” and he ran into the restaurant screaming to wash off, a move doctors say helped lessen his injuries.
He said he was scared for his life because he was worried the suspect might come up behind him. However, he added that he was grateful that the man did not have a gun and that nothing worse happened.
Villalaz suffered second-degree burns on his face, third-degree burns on his neck, and damage to his left eye from the liquid that police described as a “corrosive substance.” Doctors later told Villalaz they believed the substance was battery acid. Along with scarring his face, the liquid also burned the jacket, sweater, and shirt he was wearing.
Community Condemns Attack
The attack has been widely condemned by community leaders, politicians, and relatives. At a news conference on Monday, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the attack was “obviously” a hate crime and blamed President Donald Trump for inciting hatred against minorities.
“To single out someone because they’re from a Hispanic origin is simply wrong. And we know what’s happening,” Barrett said. “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,” he continued.
“Everybody knows what’s happening. It’s because the president is talking about it on a daily basis that people feel they have license to go after Hispanic people. And it’s wrong.”
Alderman Jose Perez also called the attack a hate crime that will “have a long-term impact on the life of the victim”
In a statement, Perez added, “This was senseless violence and it needs to stop. We as a community need to come together to work through our differences and learn to respect one another and diffuse conflict.”
“We need those elected officials who are spreading racial hatred to knock off the rhetoric that is designed to divide us. Instead, we need to work to heal the wounds that have been gashed open in the last few years. We as a country are better than this. Milwaukee is better than this.”
Villalaz is still recovering from the attack but said he struggles to explain this incident to his children. “My son calls me today, ‘Daddy what happened with you?’ It was…” he said fighting tears. “What can I tell him? Some crazy guy did this to me.”
He is advising others to “just walk away” if they encounter a similar situation, instead of putting themselves in danger to argue or defend themselves against someone who can’t listen or be reasoned with.
Villalaz’s family has created a GoFundMe page to cover his medical expenses which has already surpassed its $15,000 goal.
Houston Police Chief Slams Republican Lawmakers After Officer Death
- Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo slammed Republican leaders for their opposition to the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act on Monday.
- His remarks came right after his sergeant, Christopher Brewster, was fatally shot while responding to a domestic violence call.
- He claimed Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and John Cornyn are refusing to pass the bill because of its provision to close the “boyfriend loophole” that allows non-married men with a past conviction of domestic violence to buy firearms.
- Acevedo accused the senators of supporting the National Rifle Association over the safety of women, children, and officers.
The Chief’s Remarks
Houston Chief of Police Art Acevedo publicly denounced Republican senators on Monday for their failure to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and take action against gun violence.
Acevedo was standing outside of a medical examiner’s office when he spoke to the press, waiting to escort the body of Sgt. Christopher Brewster to a funeral home. Brewster was fatally shot after responding to a domestic violence call over the weekend.
The chief specifically called out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn in his passionate remarks. He said he believes that one of the biggest reasons they won’t pass the VAWA is “because the NRA doesn’t like the fact that we want to take firearms out of the hands of boyfriends that abuse their girlfriends.”
“And who killed our sergeant?” he added. “A boyfriend abusing his girlfriend.”
The VAWA was originally enacted in 1994 to improve criminal justice and community-based responses to domestic violence, but it expired in February. The House passed a reauthorization of the bill in early April, but it is currently on hold in the Senate as some disapprove of new provisions like closing the “boyfriend loophole.”
Under the former version of the VAWA, only spouses and ex-spouses who are convicted of stalking offenses or domestic violence crimes are not legally allowed to buy firearms. Closing the “boyfriend loophole” would extend these gun restrictions to boyfriends and non-spousal partners.
The NRA has publicly criticized the provision to close the “boyfriend loophole” in the past, calling it a “poison pill” and “too broad and ripe for abuse.”
“You’re either here for women and children and our daughters and our sisters and our aunts,” Acevedo said on Monday. “Or you’re here for the NRA.”
Last week, before Brewster’s death, Acevedo had been part of the group of Houston leaders who urged Congress to reauthorize the VAWA.
In response to these requests, Sen. Cornyn blamed the ongoing impeachment hearings for distracting lawmakers from other matters.
Acevedo mentioned Cornyn’s online response in his call for action on Monday.
“And don’t tell me, Senator, with all due respect, it’s about the impeachment,” he said. “Because you brag every day, you and Mitch McConnell, about getting judges confirmed. You brag about every piece of legislation you care about.”
“Start caring about cops, children and women, and everyday gun violence,” Acevedo added.
The suspect accused of killing Sgt. Brewster, Arturo Solis, already had a previous domestic violence conviction. A spokesperson for Cornyn told The Washington Post that Acevedo’s arguments to close the “boyfriend loophole” didn’t apply to this case because there are already laws that restrict people who have previously been convicted of domestic violence (although the federal gun control act still has its own ‘boyfriend loophole.’)
“So the ‘loophole’ he spent so much time blaming Sens. Cornyn and Cruz for didn’t apply because [Solis] already wasn’t supposed to own a gun,” Cornyn’s spokesperson said.
Cornyn’s office also told CNN that Democrats are to blame for the delay in reauthorizing the revised VAWA.
“Democrats in DC walked away from negotiations and that’s when it fell apart,” they said in an email.
In turn, Cruz’s office released the following statement to KHOU 11:
“For many years, Senator Cruz has worked in law enforcement, helping lead the fight to ensure that violent criminals—and especially sexual predators who target women and children—face the very strictest punishment,” they said. “Senator Cruz is currently reviewing Violence Against Women Act legislation in the Senate.”
See what others are saying: (Houston Chronicle) (Washington Post) (CNN)
Influencer Sentenced to 14 Years in Prison After Heist to Steal Website Domain Goes Completely Wrong
- Influencer Rossi Adams was sentenced to 14 years in prison for extortion after he convinced his cousin to help him steal a domain name.
- Adams’ cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., held up the domain owner at gunpoint before that owner managed to gain control of the situation.
- Adams, who had created social media company State Snaps, had reportedly been trying to complete his business with the website domain.
Influencer Tries to Buy Domain
An influencer who operated a social media company known as State Snaps was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday after being found guilty of extortion.
That influencer, Rossi Adams, had planned to steal a website domain to use to market State Snaps; however, the domain had already been bought. After unsuccessfully trying to buy the domain, he convinced his cousin to break into the owner’s house and steal it at gunpoint in June 2017.
Adams first launched State Snaps while he was a student at Iowa State University in Cedar Rapids. Spread across Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, State Snaps contained videos and photos of “young adults engaged in crude behavior, drunkenness, and nudity,” according to court records.
As State Snaps then took off at Iowa State, many students began using the hashtag #DoItForState, which in turn, allowed the company to grow outside of the campus.
At its height, Adams actually collected over a million followers. During that time, Adams began raking in money. At one point, he even earned the nickname “Polo” because he reportedly started buying and wearing Ralph Lauren Polo clothes en masse.
“The nudity, that’s what draws the attention, that’s what got it going, you know?” he said in an investigative piece with KCCI in 2015. “Sex sells.”
Adams, however, lacked a website, so he attempted to create doitforstate.com, but that domain name was already registered with GoDaddy.com.
At the same time State Snaps went viral, two brothers—Ethan and Chris Deyo—reportedly wanted to bank off its success by selling merchandise and promoting parties. Thus, they purchased doitforstate.com, with the sale was being officially in Ethan’s name.
Ethan Deyo, who had also been living in Cedar Rapids, had also previously worked for GoDaddy.com and at the time, was making a side hustle by buying domains that might be popular.
Within the next few months, Adams reached out to the Deyo’s and met with them on several occasions to buy the domain from them. At one point, they had discussed a potential partnership, but it repeatedly fell through when neither side could reach a deal.
However, for the next two years, Adams continued to contact Deyo.
Adams Tries to Claim Domain at Gunpoint
In June 2017, Adams and his cousin, Sherman Hopkins Jr., exponentially escalated the situation when they drove to Ethan Deyo’s home to hold him hostage.
Hopkins, who was already a convicted felon at the time, reportedly armed himself with both a stolen gun and a taser.
The plan had been for Hopkins to deliver a note from Adams on how to transfer the domain to his name while Adams waited in the car and acted as the getaway. According to court documents, the two had purchased burner phones to communicate.
Meanwhile, Deyo was in his home office on the second floor. He said when his dog cocked its head and picked up its ears, he stepped outside the room to see what was happening. That’s when he then saw Hopkins standing in his foyer.
Reportedly, Hopkins—while wearing pantyhose over his head as well as sunglasses and a baseball cap—shouted, “Come here, motherfucker!”
Deyo raised his hands to surrender but then ran and locked himself in his bedroom. Hopkins, however, kicked through the door and grabbed Deyo, reportedly by the neck.
He then asked Deyo where his computer was. In turn, Deyo to lead him back to his office. All the while, Hopkins pointed the gun against Deyo’s back.
Once in the office, Hopkins opened Deyo’s Macbook and told him, “Okay, motherfucker. GoDaddy.com.”
Hopkins then handed Deyo the note from Adams. While Deyo followed commands, GoDaddy also requires the physical address of new owners when transferring domains. When he attempted to explain that to Hopkins, the intruder tased him in the neck.
“You don’t need no fucking address,” Hopkins reportedly said.
Eventually, however, Hopkins put Deyo on call with Adams, who gave him the address. In court, Deyo said he recognized Adams’ voice from previous conversations.
But there’s actually another reason why this plan was doomed from the start. To prevent theft, GoDaddy requires a second, later confirmation of transfer. That process can take up to a few business days, but Adams was sitting in his car on his iPhone waiting for the transfer to go through.
Deyo, piecing together that Hopkins would be waiting for Adams’ command to leave, began concocting a plan to fight back.
“My thought is that, you know, they’re not going to be happy until they see the domain in their account,” he said in court. “And if it’s a three-day period of that happening, you know, what are they going to do? Sit here for three days and hold me at gunpoint? So I decided to get out of it.”
Finding an opening, Deyo grabbed the gun and swung it away from his head. He and Hopkins then reportedly struggled over the gun, crashing through a table. At one point, Deyo ended up getting shot in the leg, but he was ultimately able to gain control of the gun.
He then reportedly shot Hopkins three times in the chest before running downstairs to call police. When he couldn’t find his phone, he then ran back upstairs to call 911 using Hopkins’ burner.
Within minutes, police and paramedics arrived. Hopkins ended up surviving that shooting but also suffered permanent nerve damage in his spine.
He was ultimately sentenced to 20 years in prison for burglary, robbery, and kidnapping.
Adams Convicted and Sentenced to 14 Years
Meanwhile, for the next three days, Adams continued checking GoDaddy to see if the domain had been transferred to him. It never was.
It wasn’t until September 2018 that police arrested Adams after Hopkins revealed Adams’ full plan in court in exchange for a reduced sentence.
Adams was then charged with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by force, threats, and violence.
In April, he was actually found guilty of that crime, leading to his sentencing on Monday. He’s also been ordered to pay around $35,000 in legal fees.
Doitforstate.com, the website which inflamed the entire fiasco, has been nothing more than a blank page since 2018.
See what others are saying: (CNN) (One Zero) (Des Moines State Register)
AOC and Sanders Ask for HIV Medicine Patent to be Rejected
- A petition filed by advocacy group PrEP4All Collaboration alleges that biotech company Gilead Sciences suspended the development of a potentially safer HIV prevention drug for five years in 2005 so they could continue to profit from their current monopoly on the market, despite the fact that it was less safe.
- Gilead is asking now asking to extend the patent on the new drug while PrEP4All is asking for this patent to be rejected.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also wrote a joint letter urging the Trump administration to reject this request, calling the alleged practice a “disgrace.”
- Gilead has denied these accusations.
Petition Filed Against Gilead
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are calling on the Trump administration to reject a patent extension request from Gilead Sciences after the company was accused of delaying the development of a safer HIV prevention drug.
A petition filed by advocacy group PrEP4All Collaboration alleges that when Gilead suspended the development of a newer and potentially safer HIV prevention drug in 2005, it did so in order to maximize its monopoly on profits from its less-safe drug that was already on the market. The petition says they wanted to leave this old drug on the market until its patent expired, and before generic competition came up. The company did not submit the new drug, tenofovir alafenamide, or TAF, to the Food and Drug Administration until 2010. It was approved in 2015.
According to a report from the Washington Post, Gilead is currently requesting that its patent on TAF be extended for another three years. PrEP4All is asking the Patent and Trademark Office to reject this request because of this allegation.
TAF is meant to prevent HIV infections via a process called pre-exposure prophylaxis, also known as PrEP. Extending the patent would make sure they had a monopoly on the drug.
Letter from Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez
PrEP4All’s fight got a new push of support on Monday when Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez gave their support. In a letter to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office obtained by The Guardian, the leaders condemned Gilead for these accusations.
“It is an absolute disgrace that in America, a greedy drug company like Gilead can deprive hundreds of thousands of Americans of lifesaving HIV medicine to extract more profit, lie about it, and then have the audacity to ask the US government to award it with a longer monopoly to reap tens of billions more in profits,” Sanders wrote.
Ocasio-Cortez said this practice “inhibited efforts to end the HIV epidemic.”
Together, the two urged the Trump administration to “not reward Gilead for this immoral behavior.”
If the Trump administration followed their requests, it would not be the first time they took action against Gilead. In November, the administration sued the company in a patent infringement case. They accused the company of profiting off of taxpayer-funded research without giving taxpayer money back.
Statements From Those Involved
Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have not been the only ones to speak out.
“Gilead has not only intentionally delayed clinical development of a drug to artificially manipulate its eligibility for a patent-term extension, but it has done so despite the apparent harm to patients,” said attorney Christopher Morten, who filed PrEP4All’s petition in a statement to the Washington Post.
The Post says that the petition cites statements made by the company’s executives in 2011, where some indicated a desire to “avoid cannibalizing sales of the old drug” with the expectation that TAF could maintain the patent longevity of their HIV drug franchise. The petition also says that Gilead stated that clinical trials had indicated that TAF is safer than older drugs. A study funded by them found that restricting patients from the new drug could cause 16,000 deaths over the course of nine years.
Still, the Washington Post said the outcome of PrEP4All’s petition is not set in stone.
“Odds of success are steep because the patent office will review such third-party petitions only in ‘extraordinary’ circumstances, according to its rules,” their report said.
“Patient safety is of foremost importance to us, and any implication that Gilead delayed the development of a drug known to be safer than [the older drug] is false,’’ Gilead spokesperson Ryan McKeel said in a statement obtained by the Post.