LOS ANGELES—A Diamond Bar man pleaded guilty Oct. 26 on the third day of trial to a federal charge for disrupting a “Stop Asian Hate” rally by deliberately running a red light, blocking the path of demonstrators, and yelling racial epithets at them.
Steve Lee Dominguez, 57, pleaded guilty to one felony count of bias-motivated interference with federally protected activities. He was in the midst of trial on two counts of the federal civil rights charge, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II scheduled a May 6 sentencing hearing, at which time Mr. Dominguez will face up to one year in prison pursuant to the terms of his plea agreement. Mr. Dominguez has remained free on a $30,000 bond since his initial arrest in May 2022 and will remain on bond until sentencing in Los Angeles federal court.
According to the plea agreement, at the rally in Diamond Bar on March 21, 2021, Mr. Dominguez yelled, “Go back to China!” and other racial slurs at the demonstrators. He then deliberately drove his car through an intersection’s crosswalk at the red light, made an illegal U-turn, and cut off the route of several rally participants lawfully crossing the street.
The rally was a protest against the increase in hate crimes and hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders both locally and nationally—including the murders of six Asian American women five days earlier in Atlanta.
Prosecutors said one victim at the rally was an Asian American woman carrying a sign that read, “Stop Asian Hate.” Another victim was a Black girl who carried a sign that read, “End the Violence Against Asians.” Another person who was cut off in the crosswalk was a 9-year-old child, and Mr. Dominguez’s car narrowly missed coming into contact with her and others, according to the indictment.
No injuries were reported.
Mr. Dominguez then pulled his car over some distance away from the intersection, got out of the car, and continued to yell racial epithets and threats at the demonstrators. He then called the police, identified himself as “John Doe” and falsely reported to police that the rally participants were blocking the street and he had to run a red light “because they were about to trample my car,” the indictment says.
He also requested that police “get some control out” at the intersection.
“The right to political expression is a bedrock principle of this nation,” U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada said in a statement. “Mr. Dominguez’s decision to attack a peaceful rally meant to raise awareness of anti-Asian hate was both unlawful and un-American. My office will remain steadfast in our commitment to safeguard civil rights against those who would seek to undermine our constitutional rights.”