In 2017, the FBI reported that there were 7,175 incidences attributed to hate crimes. This figure represents a 17% increase from 2016. The Hate Crime Statistics Act which was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1990 defines a hate crime as “….crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” One man is now facing eight counts of attempted murder and two hate crime enhancements after he targeted a group of people and mowed them down with his vehicle in Sunnyvale in April.
The Mercury News reported that the Santa Clara County District Attorney and the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety announced that they would be investigating an incident involving Isaiah Joel Peoples, 34, a hate crime.
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The incident happened at a crosswalk at El Camino Real and Sunnyvale Avenue. On April 23rd, Peoples drove his Toyota Corolla into a group of pedestrians and bicyclists from South Asia, believing they were Muslims. Peoples then crashed his vehicle into a tree after which several eyewitnesses at the scene said Peoples got out of his car and began saying, “Thank you, Jesus!” “Praise Jesus” and “ I love you, Jesus!”
Police said among the eight people hurt in the incident were members of a Hindu family; including the father, Rajesh Narayan, his 9-year old son, Prakhar, and his daughter, 13-year-old Dhitri Narayan. Dihitri is still currently in a coma with life-threatening injuries.
Peoples is currently being held in the Santa Clara County Main Jail where he awaits trial. He has not entered a plea so far. Each of the hate crimes enhancements filed add an additional six years to any crimes that Peoples would be convicted of.