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Man sentenced to 6 years for hate-crime attack at Laguna Beach Whole Foods

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Fernando Ramirez, 23, of San Clemente was sentenced to six years in prison for a hate-crime attack in Laguna Beach.
(Orange County district attorney’s office)

A man was sentenced Friday to six years in prison for a hate-crime attack on an African American worker at a Whole Foods Market in Laguna Beach last year, prosecutors said.

Fernando Ramirez, 23, of San Clemente was convicted in October of running up behind the 26-year-old employee and sucker-punching him inside the Broadway Street grocery store June 15, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office.

The punch left the employee with a broken nose and severe damage to his front teeth, officials said.

The district attorney’s office said the men did not know each other.

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Ramirez fled the store, and when authorities caught up with him a few blocks away, he launched into a racist tirade filled with slurs against black people, prosecutors alleged.

He was arrested that day but released from custody until Oct. 17, when a jury found him guilty of battery and violating civil rights by force with a felony hate-crime enhancement.

Ramirez previously served time for a 2014 gang-related assault, according to the district attorney’s office.

Reports of hate crimes have steadily increased in Orange County over the past five years, with the largest year-over-year rise — 11% — in 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, according to the county’s annual report.

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“Hate does not belong anywhere, but hate crimes are on the rise in Orange County and it cannot and will not be tolerated,” District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a statement.

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