A white Wisconsin man was sentenced to 10 years in prison on Wednesday (May 18) after he was convicted of a racist acid attack against a Latino man in 2019.
Milwaukee County District Judge Jean Marie Kies told 64-year-old Clifton Blackwell in court this week that he acted with hate when he threw acid at Mahud Villalaz at a bus stop in November 2019, causing second-degree burns and leaving the vision in his left eye permanently damaged. Blackwell's actions were unprovoked and "diabolical."
"We're all different from one another. ... When we let those differences cloud our judgment, that's bias or prejudice or discrimination, and in this instance it is hate," Kies said. "I'm sure (the acid) was absolutely painful. And you caused him emotional distress that I think is never going to heal. You made him feel he's not worthy and diabolical."
Ahead of receiving his sentence, Blackwell said that Villalaz "still scares me very much." Blackwell's attorney, Michael Plaisted, asked the judge to consider a two or three-year prison sentence arguing that his client wasn't a part of a hate group and carried acid for protection. Plaisted also said that Blackwell had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.
The attorney also said while that Blackwell may have decided to argue with Villalaz at the bus stop because of his ethnicity, his client wasn't trying to start a fight.
"I don't think people should take too much from what has happened in this case, although I think people have their based (on their perceptions) on limited information," Plaisted said. "He was not out that day to hurt anyone, but he did and he stands here convicted."
Reading about trauma can have an impact on your mental health. If you or someone you know need immediate mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.