SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Chief Andrew Mills with the Santa Cruz Police Department said a man was arrested on hate crime charges Saturday night.
Mills said the suspect, Cody Chavez, allegedly beat a black man while screaming "racial epithets." Santa Cruz police said the incident happened outside a motel on the 1400 block of Ocean Street.
The victim, a 46-year-old from Jamaica, was hospitalized. Police said his injuries were serious, but not life-threatening.
Chavez, 32, was arrested and charged with battery, violation of civil rights causing violent injury and resisting arrest.
Some Santa Cruz residents said they were shocked to hear about the attack.
“I’m a first generation immigrant and I’ve never had any issues,” resident Yuko Hook said. “I think Santa Cruz is the most accepting community as far as different races goes.”
But others said these incidents happen more often than people think.
“I’ve been slapped and then called the n-word,” activist Faith Brown said.
Brown said she has experienced hate firsthand in Santa Cruz.
“I don’t feel like a lot of people try to bring light to it because most people think it’s just how it is,” Brown said.
Brown described her experience a day after the attack by Chavez.
“There is no place for this heinous behavior in our community, or our country, and we will not tolerate it,” Santa Cruz Deputy Chief of Police Bernie Escalante said in a statement.
The California Department of Justice reported that, of the 1,066 hate crime events that happened state-wide in 2018, 23 of them were in Santa Cruz County.
But Brown said that number likely doesn't reflect reality.
“A lot of people don’t report it because you don’t want that feeling of not getting your justice," Brown said. "Because that hurts more than not saying anything at all.”