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61-year-old man accused in Milwaukee acid attack charged with hate crime

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The 61-year-old man accused of throwing acid on a South Milwaukee man, has been charged with a hate crime. 

Clifton Blackwell made his first court appearance on Wednesday, Nov. 6, where his bail was set at $20,000 cash.

Blackwell is accused of throwing acid on Muhad Villalaz near 13th and Cleveland on Friday, Nov. 1. 

According to a criminal complaint, Blackwell confronted Villalaz about parking too close to a bus stop, and then argued with him again after the victim moved his car.

Villalaz saed Blackwell called him “illegal,” and asked him “Why did you invade my country?"

Villalaz told police he called Blackwell racist and then the acid was thrown on him. 

The attack was captured on surveillance video.

"When that happens I think it's important  to note this doesn't threaten the Latino community this threatens the community, this threatens our community," said Craig Mastantuono, an attorney for Mahud Villalaz. 


Villalaz says he's happy with the charges. 

"I'm very pleased for what has happened now, I feel relieved and I just  wanna move on," said Villalaz. 

Investigators recovered several bottles of acid from Blackwell’s home, along with two types of cleaners. One of Villalaz's lawyers say the district attorney's office also got a hold of Blackwell's computer and books. 

"We fully expect to have access to that and to determine whether or not there are white supremacists and white nationalists that are out there actively promoting this kind of terrorist activity," said Mark Thomsen, Villalaz's attorney. 

The state crime lab is now investigating what exactly was used in this attack.

In court, Blackwell was ordered not to have any contact with the victim and not to possess any chemicals, acids, or large batteries. 

"I am taking into account the allegations in the complaint which I find to be certainly callous and premeditated," said Rosa Barillas, court commissioner. 

Villalaz's 2nd degree burns will take at least two more weeks to heal, and even though Blackwell's alleged actions showed him the ugliness in humanity, the attack has also brought Villalaz an outpouring of love and support from all over the country.

"I'm really glad to know there's a lot of good people out there, caring about other people," adds Villalaz. 

As the investigation moves forward, Hispanic non-profit group Forward Latino wants the community to report any signs of discrimination.

"If witnesses see somebody that they believe to have extremist views, it's better to be safe than sorry, please call the FBI Hotline," said Darryl Morin, President of Forward Latino. 

If convicted, Blackwell could face a maximum of 35 years in prison. He's due back in court on Nov. 15 for his preliminary hearing. 

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