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California Woman Charged with Hate Crime After Nearly Running Over Black Traffic Flagman While Shouting Racial Slurs

A Northern California woman was arraigned on hate crime, as well as assaults and DUI charges on Friday, April 2, after she was arrested on March 30 on driving toward a Black traffic flagman while yelling racial slurs.

Martina Marie Garcia, a 33-year-old Paradise woman was taken into custody for driving under the influence of alcohol and assault with a deadly weapon, the Chico Enterprise-Record reported.

Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey said Garcia is “alleged to have driven her Ford Explorer SUV north through a traffic-controlled work zone in the 5500 block of Scottwood Road in Paradise at approximately 40-50 miles per hour while workers were present trying to clear trees.”

Martina Marie Garcia. (Photo: KHSL 12 via Butte County Jail)

The speed limit within the work zone was 25 mph.

A Black worker was holding a “Slow” sign up while Garcia passed quickly through the work zone with a beer to her lips as she made an obscene gesture.

Garcia’s brother, who workers said was also in the car, made the same gesture. Shortly after the first encounter, workers said Garcia returned, driving through the work zone from the opposite direction in the same vehicle. The worker was holding a “Stop” sign, but Garcia drove toward him at 50-60 mph while swerving and yelling racial slurs, workers say.

According to Ramsey, the worker had to jump out of the way to avoid being struck by Garcia.

Between 2011 and 2016, 532 construction workers died while on the job at road construction sites. About half of those deaths resulted from being struck by vehicles or mobile equipment.

Police say after Garcia sped by the second time, another worker called 911 and followed her to her home. Police arrived, and Garcia was arrested and charged with a DUI and assault, while her brother, 43-year-old Antonio Burgos, was arrested for violating his parole by drinking.

Garcia was charged with a hate crime after “police reports came in and it appeared the assault was motived by hate directed at a minority.”

If found guilty of the hate crime allegation, Garcia could face an additional three years of prison time. Without the hate crime, Garcia faces up to four years of state prison time.

Garcia was released from jail on $55,000 bail and is expected to return to Butte County Superior Court on April 7 with her attorney for further arraignment and entry of her plea.

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