Complaint filed in bias attack on Asian mother, child

March 23, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The attorney general filed a civil rights complaint against a man who allegedly harassed and threatened a woman and her daughter in a car because they are Asian American in Portland, Maine, last week.

The complaint announced Monday seeks an order prohibiting Troy Sprague from having contact with the woman or her family and instructs him not to violate the Maine Civil Rights Act in the future. Sprague, 47, was arrested and charged in the attack last week.

Sprague allegedly approached the woman and her daughter on March 15 as they were sitting in their car and yelled “go back to your country” and “you Chinese go back to your country,” prosecutors said. He then kicked her partially opened window and kicked the rearview mirror, damaging it and injuring her daughter, the complaint said.

“We are bearing witness to an unconscionable increase in hate crimes being perpetrated against individuals of Asian descent across our nation,” said Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey. “We will not tolerate such attacks in Maine, and we will act swiftly to address allegations like those received last week out of Portland.”

There is no hate crime statute in Maine, but someone can be charged with civil rights violations, the Portland Press Herald reported. A court may also consider at sentencing if someone committed a crime because of a person’s “race, color, religion, sex, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, sexual orientation or homelessness.”

Police said that Sprague does not have housing. It was not clear if he had an attorney.

Several major cities have seen a sharp uptick in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans or Asian residents between 2019 and 2020, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

The recent shootings in and around Atlanta that left eight people, six of them women of Asian descent, at three massage businesses was widely seen as targeting the Asian community, despite statements by the suspect that the killings were not motivated by race.