Police are seeking to identify two persons’ of interest suspected in connection to their suspected involvement in a hate crime that took place outside City Hall in Los Angeles on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol riot in Washington.
Law enforcement is seeking the public’s help in identifying two men seen in photos of a woman identified as Berlinda Nibo, 25, surrounded by a group of pro-Trump demonstrators.
Nibo said she was accosted by a group of 20 demonstrators, who called her racial slurs and assaulted her. Photos and videos of the encounter have been shared widely on social media.
Many images were captured and shared by photojournalist Raquel Natalicchio, who began following Nibo protectively as she walked alone among the demonstrators.
One of the men police seek to identify is described as roughly 40 to 45 years old, white and about 6 feet tall. He was seen in the above image sporting a gray hat with an American flag on it and a gray shirt with “45” on the front.
The other man, also white, is about 6 feet tall and 180 pounds. He has brown eyes and was wearing a black hat, black tactical vest and ripped denim shorts in the photos. The man is between 30 and 40 years old.
Nibo told the Los Angeles Times that the demonstrators used pepper spray that got into her eyes and ear as they hurled racial slurs at her. The butt of a metal flag pole was used to strike her, leaving her with a circular bruise on her shoulder.
“It seemed like these people were trying to kill me,” said Nibo. “To use me to make some kind of statement or something.”
Nibo and a friend were leaving a downtown L.A. restaurant when they stumbled upon the Trump rally. Nibo said she stopped out of curiosity and wondered why a Trump rally was happening when the election was over.
After realizing they were the only Black people around, the pair tried to leave, but then stayed longer to search for Nibo’s friend’s phone, which was missing. During the search, Nibo became separated from her friend, who was riding a skateboard while looking for the phone.
Demonstrators began separating from the crowd to follow Nibo, taunting her.
“Do you know who Joe Biden is?” asked one.
“Did you vote for Donald Trump?” questioned another.
Nibo said she moved away as chants of “white lives matter” began. Demonstrators shoved Nibo. One woman ripped off her wig, then proclaimed, “I did the first scalping of the new civil war,” which was captured on video.
“You know the scenes in cartoons when the villagers were coming at you with pitchforks and fire and all that? Literally, I thought that was it,” she said. “I’m going to be on the front page: A young African American girl has been beaten to death on the streets of downtown L.A.”
Nibo initially said the white man seen in photos holding her arms down to her sides was helping to shield her from the attacks, although social media users said he clearly appeared to be a part of the assault, especially as she could be seen in one photo being pepper-sprayed as he was holding her. She has since stepped back from saying the man was helping her, telling Buzzfeed, “It did not help me. It would’ve helped me more if he had made way for me to move out of there completely.”
Toyota USA released a statement starting that the man was a former employee but it was not clear if he was terminated because of his perceived role in the events on Wednesday.
In a statement on Jan. 8 the LAPD called the man a “good Samaritan.”
Nibo’s friend and bystanders helped pull her out of the chaos to safety. Officers on the scene were criticized for not pursuing Nibo’s attackers. One officer told her she could file the paperwork to make a citizen’s arrest, according to Nibo and two witnesses.
In addition to seeking information about the persons of interested suspected of being involved in the attack on Nibo, the LAPD has also launched a personnel investigation about the complaints against the officers’ conduct.
A GoFundMe campaign for Nibo has raised nearly $100,000 as of this writing.