Justin Tavarez, a 19-year-old Skidmore College sophomore from the Bronx, has been charged with felony hate crime, second-degree assault and criminal mischief after smashing a plate over the head of a white man who was dining with a black man at a Saratoga Springs restaurant. Tavarez and three friends are accused of attacking and harassing the two diners, but Tavarez faces the most serious charges for starting the violence. Lt. Gregory Veitch told the Daily News, "They were expressing their displeasure at the two of them dining together. They started making racially derogatory comments to both of them and that escalated into the attack."
The two men were eating together around 5:30 a.m. on Saturday at Compton's Restaurant, at a table near where Tavarez and his friends, two of who are from New York City, were sitting. After Tavarez smashed the plate over one victim's head, his three friends began punching and kicking him until the victim's friend and diner employees were able to pull them off. Tavarez allegedly told cops, "Yeah, so I hit him with the plate ... fine, so what? It's not like if he had the chance he wouldn't have hit me with a plate."
That seems to counter his family's claims that Tavarez holds no racial biases. His mother said, "I know my son is not a racist...Our best friends are black and white. We're all mixed. We're Hispanic." Tavarez was released after posting $5,000 bail, and is due back in court on January 6th.