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Orange County man charged with hate crime for throwing rocks at Asian mother’s car

Community members hold signs calling for hate to stop
The charges come amid a spike in attacks on Asian Americans. Above, community members call for an end to hate at a news conference March 22 in Los Angeles.
(Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

Orange County officials have charged a man with a hate crime for allegedly throwing rocks at an Asian woman and her 6-year-old son last week as they drove down a street in Fullerton.

Roger Janke, 28, faces one felony count of violation of civil rights, one felony count of vandalism, one misdemeanor count of throwing a substance at a vehicle and one felony hate crime enhancement, the Orange County district attorney’s office announced Monday. Officials arrested Janke last week.

The D.A.’s office has prosecuted 18 hate crime cases since Jan. 2019, according to spokesperson Kimberly Edds. It prosecuted nine cases between 1994 and 2018. Edds said that Todd Spitzer has renewed focused on prosecuting hate crimes since taking office in 2019 and that prosecutors have been working with law enforcement to encourage the public to report such incidents.

Janke has pleaded not guilty. He faces a maximum sentence of six years in prison and six months in jail if convicted as charged, officials said. He is being held on $51,000 bail. It was not immediately clear if Janke has an attorney.

Officials allege that on the afternoon of March 31, Janke threw two rocks at a car carrying a 38-year-old mother and her son, cracking the windshield and damaging the bumper. The woman drove to a nearby park and called 911. Prosecutors said Janke told police that Korean people in the area were trying to control him.

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The charges come as Asian American communities across the country — including in Orange County — have faced a surge of hate incidents during the pandemic. Many advocates are encouraging victims to report incidents to the police even if they do not rise to the level of a hate crime.

“I refuse to tolerate hate in Orange County,” Spitzer said in a statement. “A woman and her child should be able to drive down the street without worrying about being attacked because of the color of their skin.”


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