Orange County man arrested for hate crime after mural defacing

Local Costa Mesa mural, La Poderosas, with remnants of hate speech written across it. Kiyyaa Semeret | Lariat 

A Dana Point man was arrested on Jan. 30 after being charged with a hate crime. This came after a local Costa Mesa mural, “Las Poderosas,” which was defaced with white supremacy slurs. The mural was known for honoring Latinas.

Costa Mesa police department responded to a call at 3000 Killybrooke Lane, Costa Mesa on Oct. 31, 2022,  after witnesses reported a man spray-painting white supremacist slurs on the Las Poderosas mural. Police later arrested and identified the suspect as a 27-year-old Dana Point man, Daniel Alec Hotte.

Hotte was reported by several witnesses and caught on camera scratching out the names of the women on the mural and spray painting “White Power” and “PEN1737,  a reference to Public Enemy Number 1 which is a documented White supremacist gang.

According to the District Attorney’s news release, Hotte was arrested on Jan. 30, at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach for an unrelated criminal matter.

“Art is one of the many beautiful ways we tell the story of who we are and where we came from,” said a representative of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. “It is heartbreaking to see the stories of such powerful women who overcame incredible obstacles to then succeed and be defaced with such hate.”

Hotte faces one felony count of vandalism exceeding $400 and one felony enhancement of a hate crime. If convicted of all charges he will have to spend a maximum of six years in state prison. Senior Deputy District Attorney Cliff Page of the Gangs/TARGET Unit is prosecuting this case. 

According to a report by the Orange County Human Relations Commission, hate crimes against Latinos increased in 2018, making them the second most targeted group in OC.

Another notable incident occurred in September 2018, when high school students from Aliso Niguel High School allegedly used the patriotic theme for it’s 9/11 memorial football game to make racist undertoned comments about Latinos such as, “Build the wall” and chanting “USA, USA, USA,” while playing against Santa Ana high school.

The problem is further exacerbated by the political climate in the United States, with former President Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies that aid in fueling anti-Latino sentiment in many communities. 

According to a survey by the Pew Research Center in 2016, 52% of Latinos in the United States say they have experienced discrimination or have been treated unfairly because of their race or ethnicity.

Evidence from Orange County Human Relations Commission shows that more changes need to be made in order to address the root causes of racism and hate speech in Orange County. With the steady rise of hate crimes since 2015, OC has been warned that it will not thrive if the racism and hate speech pattern continues.