Prosecutors: ‘Yo mama’ joke led to racist assault in Granite Falls

A man took offense and went into a rage, spewing racist slurs as he beat up a teenager, charging papers say.

Granite Falls

GRANITE FALLS — A Granite Falls man has been charged with a hate crime in an assault on a Black teen last month.

On the night of July 14, a group of teens were playing basketball at the Granite Falls Skate Park. A 24-year-old Granite Falls man, whose younger brother was friends with the teens, approached the group, according to charging papers filed this month in Snohomish County Superior Court. He seemed drunk.

The man was asking the teens some questions. One responded, “Yo mama.” This reportedly enraged the man.

The defendant moved toward a 15-year-old and called him a racist slur, prosecutors allege. The teen’s friend stepped in to protect the 15-year-old, but the man pushed that boy to the side.

The man pushed the Black teen to the ground and punched him, according to the charges. The child tried to defend himself, but the man overpowered him.

During the alleged beating, the Granite Falls man repeatedly used racist slurs, court papers say. An 18-year-old woman tried to pull the man off. He is accused of grabbing her by the throat and pushing her away. Eventually, witnesses were able to get the man off the teen. He pushed them away and left the park.

As the man left, the teen reportedly started video recording to show his injuries and clothing.

While police talked with witnesses at the scene, an officer got a call from the defendant’s brother. A few blocks away, the man was intoxicated and tearing up their house, according to charging papers.

After the suspect refused to come out, his mother allowed police to come inside the home. Officers arrested him. He appeared uninjured.

The man was “belligerent,” deputy prosecutor Melissa Samp writes in the charges. He said he didn’t speak English, wanted his rights read to him in Arabic and tried to speak Spanish in a mocking tone.

The next day, the victim was diagnosed with a broken bone in his hand, according to court documents. But the trauma of such an attack goes beyond physical injury, said Kesha Rodgers, who is chief executive officer of The Ally League, a King County-based anti-racism organization.

“It demonstrates the hatred within your own community, among people you know, and sometimes people you considered your friends,” she said in an email. “It can leave you feeling vulnerable and unsafe.”

Rodgers said the community now needs to support the victim.

The defendant has no felony convictions, courts records show. He has four misdemeanor violations since 2020, including for reckless endangerment and fourth-degree assault.

On Friday, he remained in the Snohomish County Jail.

Jake Goldstein-Street: 425-339-3439; jake.goldstein-street@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @GoldsteinStreet.

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