Militant Journalism

In rural Washington hate crime case, community demands ‘Justice for Joel Salgado’

In a rural  town, a teenager of Mexican descent is lured to the home of a rich, white high school acquaintance, then nearly beaten to death by his “friend” all the while being called racial slurs. The vicious attack is videotaped and posted on social media. After being airlifted to a trauma center, the victim survives and undergoes surgery and months of rehabilitation. Is this a hate crime? 

Not according to Rich Weyrich, prosecutor in Skagit County, Washington. Joel Salgado, a farmworker’s son, age 17 in March 2020 at the time of the attack, was nearly killed by Trevor McCabe,18, son of a wealthy scion of local industry. Weyrich is charging McCabe with first degree assault causing great bodily harm, robbery and other charges. But Weyrich has refused to invoke a hate crime enhancement under state law, despite being approached by community leaders with whom he refused to engage. 

Community activists are mobilizing to hold Weyrich accountable and demand justice for Joel Salgado and his family. To keep the case in the public awareness and demand that McCabe be charged with a hate crime, organizers will rally and march in Mt. Vernon, Wash., on July 10 at the courthouse. Liberation News interviewed organizer Julio Reyes who is working in solidarity with Salgado’s family. His remarks are presented in edited and condensed form. 

Organizer Julio Reyes: How can we hold these prosecutors accountable?

I’ve never been an advocate before. This is personal to me. I was not going to just wait and see what happens.

[It is] a serious hate crime, not just an assault but a life-changing event for Joel Salgado and his family. The n-word was written on his face. How is that not a hate crime? The attack was posted on Snapchat and bragged about. The community is outraged by this horrific attack and wants justice.

McCabe comes from a wealthy family, he is free on bail and he thinks he can get away with it. He is proud. What if a person of color had done this to a white person? McCabe literally stomped the brains out of Joel Salgado; the lowest charges should be attempted murder.

The community response has been, the first 10 seconds they are speechless and disgusted with the results. Do you know how many times I’ve heard “I can’t believe this?” 

It has been 15 months since the attack, he [Joel Salgado] has permanent injuries, requiring numerous surgeries and therapies. Joel’s mom [Rocio Linares] had to adjust quickly to taking care of her son through the surgeries and rehabilitation; it’s not like you can put on a band-aid. 

‘The community is loud and proud

We as a community, we want to make it aware, you don’t have to be silent if you are a victim. How can we hold these prosecutors accountable for protecting our lives? We want the media to know that the Salgado family does have the community behind them 100%.

Regarding the July 10 rally: People are coming from Bellingham, Seattle, the Sikh temple of Bellingham, and from Native American communities. We want to bring the community together, not for just Joel, but for people that have been subject to these kinds of attacks.

The next day it could be our turn, it could happen to anybody in the community. The community is loud and proud, they will show up and want justice for themselves and the Salgado family.

Rally and march for Justice for Joel Salgado and family, Saturday, July 10, 11 am-2 pm. Skagit County Courthouse, Mt. Vernon, Washington. 

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