A Diamond Bar man pleaded guilty on Thursday, Oct. 26, to a federal criminal civil rights charge for disrupting a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in March 2021 when he ran a red light and drove through a crowded crosswalk of peaceful demonstrators as he shouted racial slurs.
Steve Lee Dominguez, 57, pleaded guilty on the third day of trial to one felony count of bias-motivated interference with federally protected activities, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In March 2021, a “Stop Asian Hate” rally was held in Diamond Bar to raise awareness about the increase in hate crimes and incidents against members of the Asian American Pacific Islander community following the murders of six Asian American women five days earlier in Atlanta.
Demonstrators assembled for the rally at the intersection of Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue carrying American flags and large signs in support of their cause, and lawfully crossed the streets using the pedestrian crosswalk when they had the right of way, prosecutors said.
Dominguez was driving a black Honda Civic sedan. While stopped at a red light at the intersection, he yelled, “Go back to China!” and other racial insults and slurs at the demonstrators, according to prosecutors. He then deliberately drove his car through the crosswalk at the red light, made an illegal U-turn into oncoming traffic, and cut off the route of demonstrators, mostly women and a young child, who were lawfully crossing the street.
With that, he pulled his car over, got out and continued to yell racial slurs and threats at the demonstrators.
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Among those cut off in the crosswalk was a 9-year-old child, as Dominguez’s car narrowly missed her and other victims, the U.S. Attorney’s office said in a news release. No injuries were reported,
Dominguez called the police and identified himself as “John Doe” and falsely reported to police that the rally participants were blocking the street and he had to run a red light “because they were about to trample my car,” prosecutors said.
He also asked that police “get some control out” at the intersection.
“The right to political expression is a bedrock principle of this nation,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a news release. “Mr. Dominguez’s decision to attack a peaceful rally meant to raise awareness of anti-Asian hate was both unlawful and un-American.”
Dominguez faces up to one year behind bars under the terms of the plea agreement. He has remained free on a $30,000 bond since his arrest in May 2022. His sentencing is scheduled for May 6, 2024.
Anyone with information about this or other hate crimes can call the FBI’s Los Angeles field office at (310) 477-6565 or report tips online at tips.fbi.gov.