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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
California Man Convicted of Federal Hate Crime for Race-Motivated Assault

WASHINGTON – A federal jury in Sacramento, Calif., today convicted, Eric Clawson, 28, of San Francisco, of a federal hate crime for assaulting an African-American man in a Chico, Calif. bar, announced Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, and Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California.

Clawson was convicted following a 3-day trial. The evidence at trial showed that on the evening of July 6, 2008, Clawson entered Riley’s Bar & Grill in Chico while the victim was sitting inside with a friend. Shortly after entering the bar, Clawson used a racially-derogatory term to object to the victim’s presence. Clawson repeated this slur several times and, a short while later, without any verbal or physical provocation, approached and punched the victim in the face. The assault rendered the victim unconscious and inflicted injuries to his face and mouth.

A second defendant and associate of Clawson who was with Clawson when the assault took place, Joe Grivette, previously pleaded guilty on March 15, 2010, to a related charge of misprision of a felony.

"Bias-motivated acts of violence are offensive to our nation's fundamental values of equal rights and equal justice. Such acts of violence have no place in our country," said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting the federal laws prohibiting violent acts motivated by hate."

"There is no place for the reprehensible, violent conduct of the defendant in our community," said Benjamin B. Wagner, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California. "We will continue working together with state and local authorities to bring to justice those who intimidate and assault people because of race or national origin."

Clawson faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for June 10, 2010.

Agents from the Sacramento Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office investigated this matter. The case is being jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and Trial Attorney Edward Chung of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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