The Utah State Prison in Draper, Utah. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
A man who reportedly told his neighbor that he wanted to "exterminate" African-Americans was convicted of a federal hate crime Wednesday for using a stun device on the father of a child he was berating with racial slurs.
Mark Porter, 59, a former resident of Draper, Utah, faces up to 10 years in prison when he’s sentenced May 30.
The jury found that Porter met the federal hate crimes threshold by using force and the threat of force to injure, intimidate, and interfere with an African-American man because of his race and because of his occupancy of a nearby apartment in Porter’s complex.
“Porter’s violent conduct, motivated by his intolerance of another race, is an egregious crime that will not be tolerated by this Justice Department,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore of the Civil Rights Division. “We will continue to protect the civil rights of all individuals and vigorously prosecute hate crime cases.”
According to prosecutors, a 7-year-old boy was riding his scooter in an apartment complex courtyard in November 2016 when Porter told the child, “Get out of here, n—–.” The boy’s father, Mike Waldvogel, who is African-American and Latin American, heard Porter yelling and went to get his son, passing Porter on their way back to the family’s apartment. Waldvogel told Porter not to talk to his son like that, to which he said Porter replied, "You and your n—— son can get out of here."
Waldvogel was then struck on the neck with a stun cane, receiving a painful jolt that he described as incapacitating. The state charges against Porter, which included assault on the responding officers, gave way to federal charges, on which Porter was indicted Sept. 13.
One witness in the case was a leasing agent at the apartment complex who said Porter asked how many African-American families resided there. In addition to the neighbor testifying that Porter told her he wanted to "exterminate" blacks, maintenance workers testified that Porter demanded that no "n—–" tenants be allowed to move into the apartment above his.
Porter’s public defender claimed his actions the "overreaction" of an inappropriate "angry old man," and said "being racist isn’t enough" for the hate crimes conviction.
Jurors agreed with prosecutors’ argument that Porter violated the African-American family’s housing rights through his hateful actions.
“There is no place in Utah for race-motivated hatred and violence,” said U.S. Attorney John W. Huber. “All families deserve the opportunity to live peaceably in their homes where they may pursue happiness in safe environments. The jury in this case spoke on behalf of our Utah communities and definitively stated that this criminal conduct will not be tolerated.”
FBI Special Agent Eric Barnhart, who leads the bureau’s Salt Lake City field office, said the verdict sent "a powerful message" and, noting that hate crimes are underreported, urged other victims to come forward.