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A Trump supporter was sucker-punched by a counterprotester. Why isn’t it a hate crime?

R.C. Maxwell flushes his eyes after being pepper-sprayed by mistake by a fellow President Trump supporter in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Aug. 20. (Kevin Sullivan/Orange County Register via AP)

Counterprotesters crowded around him at a rally in Southern California.

R.C. Maxwell, an African American supporter of President Trump, was voicing his views on immigration, saying that he had grown up in the black community and “I’ve seen problems with illegal immigrants.”

“There’s a problem with illegal immigration; I speak out against that,” Maxwell shouted Sunday night during the “America First!” rally held in Laguna Beach. “That doesn’t make me a Nazi.”

Then the crowd got loud.

“You’re a traitor!” one hollered.

“People want you in chains, dude,” another person called out.

“I know they do,” Maxwell said.

Another shouted: “If you want to keep the peace, you should leave.”

Video showed a man emerge from the crowd and throw a punch — then Maxwell hit the ground. The scene turned into chaos as others tried to make him stop, and someone asked, “Where’s the cops?”

The man, who was heard screaming and cursing, was later identified by police as 20-year-old Richard Losey, of Lancaster, Ohio. Losey was arrested Tuesday on suspicion of misdemeanor battery with a hate crime enhancement, Laguna Beach police said this week in a statement.

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But prosecutors have since said they reviewed the case and determined “there is not enough evidence” to charge Losey with a hate crime enhancement.

“Political motivation is not an area covered under hate crimes in the penal code,” Susan Kang Schroeder, chief of staff for the Orange County district attorney, said in a statement to The Washington Post.

This is how a hate crime is defined and how federal and state authorities prosecute them. (Video: Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

California law defines a hate crime as “a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of one or more of the following actual or perceived characteristics of the victim:

  1. Disability
  2. Gender
  3. Nationality
  4. Race or ethnicity
  5. Religion
  6. Sexual orientation
  7. Association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics”

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Authorities said in a statement that the victim was “sucker-punched” as he was “peacefully speaking with a group of people.”

Losey had fled by the time police had arrived at the scene, authorities said, but video of the incident was shared widely on social media. Authorities said that after the victim contacted police Monday to report an assault by a counterprotester, police were able to identify the suspect.

When he was arrested, Losey was attempting to buy a bus pass home. Police believe he was trying to flee the state to avoid prosecution.

Online booking records show that Losey is being held on $5,000 bail.

A public defender for Losey could not immediately be reached for comment. Losey is set to appear in court next week.

Following the incident, Maxwell wrote that he had been punched in the face by “ANTIFA,” a far-left political movement characterized as anarchists and antifascists.

“My name is RC Maxwell and I am a victim of leftist violence,” Maxwell wrote Tuesday on the website Liberty Writers.

He added:

I was in attendance in Laguna ready to speak out against open borders and the consequence was a beating at the hands of the resistance crowd popularized by anti-Trump sentiment. My “stunt” is reasoning, my “tricks” are persuasion. In 2017, fact and reasoning is a justification of violence especially when it looks as good as I did in Laguna Beach.
I knew things would get worse from there and the fact that I was dressed for one of my GOP events and not for a socialist rebellion was even more concerning. I couldn’t back down. After all I skipped making an appearance to troll protesters at UTR with Baked Alaska to sponsor an event organized by Maxine Water’s strongest challenger (Edwin Duterte) and I was feeling like quite the cuck watching Baked Alaska lay his life out on the line for American values while I posed for photo ops with cougars on the coast.
I took a punch for Trump in Laguna Beach. Not because I had to, but because I wanted to expose to the nation how violent leftist agitators are.

Maxwell told Fox affiliate KTTV that he had gone “over to the left side to see if I could engage them with dialogue” when he was physically attacked.

Maxwell told The Washington Post that he wants to see Losey punished.

However, he said, he blames the attack as well as others, such as on Baked Alaska, a prominent alt-right figure, on the news media for disseminating “fake news” about the protests since Trump’s election.

“I will not rest until prominent liberal figures disavows ANTIFA and ends its push to embolden these individuals by attaching the exaggerated rise of neo-Nazis and white supremacists to pro-america conservative causes,” he said Friday in a statement. “The crowd in Laguna targeted me because I’m a black conservative.”

Maxwell said black conservatives “are despised by the radical left wing thinkers that were out in attendance in Laguna that evening because we don’t fit the exorbitant narrative that Trump loyalists are racist or xenophobic.”

This story has been updated.

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