An Iowa man has been charged with a hate crime for allegedly attacking another man because he is black. He reportedly told police that he is "allergic to black people."
Andy Benavidez, 47, of Iowa City, Iowa, is accused of assaulting the black man on March 13, CBS 2/Fox 28 reported. When police responded to a report of two men fighting, the victim told them that Benavidez had attacked him first, forcing him to defend himself.
Benavidez reportedly wore a surgical mask during the assault, claiming that he was "allergic to black people and didn't want to catch their germs," according to police documents.
Benavidez admitted that he started a fight with the black man solely because of his race. He has been charged with assault in violation of individual rights and booked into the Johnson County Jail.
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According to Chapter 708 of the Iowa Code, assault in violation of individual rights is considered a hate crime and a "serious misdemeanor." If bodily injury is caused, it is an "aggravated misdemeanor."