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A Texas man is now facing a hate crime charge after he allegedly attacked an Asian family while he was on vacation in Florida last week.
Wade Anton, 54, is accused of making “racial slurs” towards an Asian woman and her children at Beasley Park on Okaloosa Island on Thursday, the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office announced in a Friday press release.
The incident began after the children were petting his dogs and apparently ignored Anton when he asked them to leave the dogs alone. He allegedly told the mother and children to "go back where they came from" while making a “racial slur during a verbal altercation,” investigators said.
The woman’s husband told investigators that during most of the altercation, Anton was standing about 25 feet away from them. However, at some point Anton ran around the park railings and began repeatedly punching him, the sheriff's department said.
At that point, the man told police, he pulled out a handgun to protect himself from Anton. The two men were eventually separated by onlookers; no one was seriously injured.
Anton was charged last week with a hate-crime-related battery charge. He was released on Friday on a $10K bond. It’s not clear if he has an attorney to speak on his behalf.
There has been a clear escalation in attacks against Asian-Americans over the past year. A study conducted by Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate shows that Asian-Americans were targeted in around 3,800 hate incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28. The year prior, the nonprofit recorded about 2,800 such incidents, indicating a more than 25% increase in these attacks.
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