Swastika-Shaving Case To Be First Test Of New Hate Crimes Law Named For Matthew Shepard
FARMINGTON, N.M. — Three friends had just finished their shifts at a McDonald's when prosecutors say they carried out a gruesome attack on a customer: They allegedly shaped a coat hanger into a swastika, placed it on a heated stove and branded the symbol on the arm of the mentally disabled Navajo man.
Authorities say they then shaved a swastika on the back of the 22-year-old victim's head and used markers to scrawl messages and images on his body, including "KKK," `'White Power," a pentagram and a graphic image of a penis.
The men have become the first in the nation to be charged under a new law that makes it easier for the federal government to prosecute people for hate crimes.
The case also marked the latest troubling race-related attack in this New Mexico community, prompting a renewed focus among local leaders on improving relations between Navajos and whites.