US man charged with hate crimes for threatening Muslim men

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A suburban Chicago man has been charged with two hate crimes for allegedly verbally abusing and threatening to shoot two Muslim men, a prosecutor said Thursday.

Larry York, 46, of Lombard, was denied pretrial release during a court hearing Thursday, DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said.

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York confronted the victims and cursed at them Tuesday night at an apartment complex, where one of the victims had gone to meet a friend, Berlin said.

While one man was seated in his car waiting for his friend, York initially approached him and asked the victim what he was doing there and began swearing at him and telling him he didn’t belong in this country and to leave, Berlin said.

York punched the man’s car window and walked to the lobby of the building, where the second victim was leaving an elevator. York began swearing at the second man and threatened to beat him, Berlin said.

A short time later, while one of the men sat on a bench outside the building, York again approached the men and twice lifted the opposite end of the bench, causing the seated man to fall to the ground, the prosecutor said.

York also allegedly told the men that he called four of his friends to come over and shoot the two men.

The violence occurred amid heightened fears that the war between Israel and Hamas is sparking violence in the United States.

The confrontation came three days after authorities say a 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy was stabbed 26 times by his landlord in suburban Chicago.

In California last week, flyers spreading anti-Jewish rhetoric were left in neighborhoods and on vehicles in the city of Orange. And in Fresno, police said a man suspected of breaking windows and leaving an anti-Jewish note at a bakery also is a “person of interest” in the vandalism of a local synagogue.

York was arrested Wednesday at a Lombard bar.

York’s attorney, assistant public defender Michael Orescanin, argued in court his client was a moderate risk and could wear an alcohol monitor. He said York was intoxicated at the time, thought the victims were trying to enter the building illegally, and that, perhaps, the victims instigated the conflict.

A telephone message seeking further comment was left for Orescanin late Thursday afternoon at the DuPage County Public Defenders Office.

“Hate crimes have no place in a civilized society,” Berlin said in a news release. “The allegations against Mr. York are extremely disturbing and in DuPage County we have no tolerance whatsoever for such vitriolic actions.”

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