A Milford man has been charged with a hate crime after allegedly yelling “Go back to China” and reversing his car toward a man walking along the street on Tuesday.
Police say Joseph Rohrig, 38, was driving near Hill and W Town streets when he approached a man walking a dog.
“The victim stated that he was walking his dog and a male drove by yelling out something to him,” said Officer Brianna McDonald, with the Milford Police Department’s Crime Prevention Unit. “He ignored it and the male then allegedly did a U-turn and drove back towards him and started making comments about his mask, and told him to allegedly ‘go back to China.’”
Milford police said they responded to an initial report of breach of peace after the man said he felt threatened because of what he looked like, according to McDonald. The man helped officers identify Rohrig, who was arrested Thursday on charges of second-degree harassment and third-degree intimidation based on bigotry.
Rohrig admitted to approaching the victim but denied making any racial comments, McDonald said.
The case is a priority for the department amid a rise of racist violence in the last year.
“We don’t stand for this. And we’re here for the community of every race, ethnicity, gender, etc.,” McDonald said. “We just encourage people to give us a call right away so we can handle it. We don’t want this to happen as much as the community doesn’t either,” McDonald said.
Just in the last year, about 3,800 anti-Asian and Pacific Islander incidents have been reported across the country, with 65% of those cases involving verbal harassment.