One Year Sentence for Disrupting Peaceful ‘Stop Asian Hate’ Demonstration in Diamond Bar


On March 21, 2021, a disturbing episode unfolded at a “Stop Asian Hate” rally in Diamond Bar, California. Steve Lee Dominguez, a 58-year-old local resident, deliberately drove his car through a crowd of peaceful demonstrators at Diamond Bar Boulevard and Grand Avenue. This act of aggression disrupted a lawful gathering and starkly highlighted racial hatred’s impact on public safety. The legal consequences of his actions underscore the justice system’s key role in addressing and penalizing hate-driven offenses that threaten community safety and civil liberties.

Detailed Incident Description

The rally aimed to address the escalating hate crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. This need became more urgent following the tragic murders of six Asian American women in Atlanta just days earlier. As the community came together to stand against racial violence, Dominguez became confrontational. While stopped at a red light, he shouted, “Go back to China!” among other racial slurs. He then aggressively maneuvered his black Honda Civic through the red light, executed an illegal U-turn, and endangered several rally participants, including women and a young child.

Legal Charges and Conviction

Dominguez faced charges of bias-motivated interference with federally protected activities. This serious federal offense is designed to protect individuals’ rights to engage in lawful public activities without fear of violence or intimidation. His actions at the rally, which included aggressive driving and discriminatory behavior, directly violated these protections. After the legal proceedings, which considered eyewitness accounts and video evidence, Dominguez pleaded guilty. In May 2024, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II sentenced him to 12 months in federal prison. This sentence reflects the judiciary’s commitment to upholding civil rights and punishing hate-based crimes.

Arrest and Court Proceedings

Following the incident, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, with FBI support, promptly arrested Dominguez. This quick action showcased law enforcement’s resolve to tackle hate crimes effectively. Dominguez was held without bail due to the gravity of the charges. His plea agreement likely took into account the strong evidence against him, such as eyewitness testimony and surveillance footage. During sentencing, Judge Wright emphasized the importance of protecting the right to peaceful assembly and deterring future hate crimes. The prosecution called for a strict penalty, underscoring the premeditated nature of Dominguez’s disruptions. Meanwhile, the defense requested leniency, citing his clean prior record.

Steve Lee Dominguez’s one-year federal prison sentence sets a precedent for the legal system’s vigorous defense of civil rights and its determination to prosecute those who threaten peaceful assembly with hate-driven actions. His case serves as a potent reminder of both the legal and societal obligations to safeguard individuals’ rights to assemble and express their views without fear.

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