Utah hate crime law under scrutiny after tire shop beating

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The recent beating of a young man and his father at their Salt Lake City tire shop by an attacker who told police he targeted them because they were Mexican is renewing criticism of the state’s hate crime law, which one prosecutor is calling unusable.

Rather than protecting specific groups, the 1990s-era measure speaks generally about crimes that block people from freely exercising their constitutional rights.

Salt Lake County Attorney District Attorney Sim Gill says the hate crime statute isn’t enforceable or “worth the paper it’s written on.”

Because the law doesn’t apply to felony crimes, Gill’s office couldn’t use it to charge Alan Dale Covington, with a hate crime, even though he told police that he attacked a father and son with a 3-foot metal pole because they were from Mexico.

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