Utah police say hate crime law could protect Confederate flag lovers
Police in Salt Lake City said this week that hate crime laws could be used to prosecute black suspects who allegedly assaulted a white man during an argument about a Confederate flag.
Kelly Leeper told KTSU that he was in town for a Garth Brooks concert when he noticed black men near his friend’s truck, which he said contained $50,000 worth of welding equipment.
According to Leeper, the men argued with him over a Confederate flag decal on the side of the truck when he and his friend confronted them.
Cell phone video shows one of the men appearing to punch Leeper’s friend in the face, knocking him out. Leeper said that he was also forced to the ground by the men.
“I’ll be damned if I ever come to Salt Lake again without bringing my gun,” Leeper insisted. “The point is it’s my right to drive what any kind of vehicle I want. If I want to fly the Confederate Flag, it’s my right.”
Leeper said that neither he nor his friend were seriously hurt in the scuffle.
Salt Lake City Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Robin Heiden told KTSU that the attack “could potentially be a hate crime.”
“We’ll then present all that to the district attorney who will make that final determination,” she said.
Salt Lake City Police are searching for a silver two-door car. They believe it has temporary Utah licenses plates, partially reading “9-7-S-20.”
“Somebody thought to get a plate number as well and that’s really going to help in this case. I think we’ll probably be able to track down that vehicle,” Heiden explained.
The FBI defines a hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.”
Watch the video below from KTSU, 2broadcast Nov. 2, 2015.