Civil rights violation adds to charges in alleged Portland hate crime

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PORTLAND — A Portland man is now facing criminal and civil charges for an alleged assault at a METRO bus stop in late January that authorities say unlawfully violated the civil rights of the victims.

On April 21 the Maine attorney general’s office filed a civil complaint in Cumberland County Superior Court against Jamie Hoffman, 20, in connection with the alleged hate crime against several Casco Bay High School students.

Under the civil complaint, Hoffman could face a fine of up to $5,000 for each count.

Hoffman was also charged with two counts of assault and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon after his arrest in early February.

Those charges are felonies and carry the possibility of significant jail time, along with additional fines.

Hoffman is expected to appear in court May 3 for a case conference between his attorney and the district attorney’s office, according to a court clerk.

Police said that after school on  Jan. 27 Hoffman verbally assaulted the black students while they waited for a bus and then physically assaulted several other students who came to their aid.

In the civil complaint, Attorney General Janet Mills asked the court to require Hoffman to stay away from the students involved, stay off the campus shared by Casco Bay and the Portland Arts and Technology high schools, and refrain from any future violations of the Maine Civil Rights Act.

The complaint claims Hoffman “yelled racial epithets at a diverse group of students waiting for the Portland METRO bus on Allen Avenue near Casco Bay High School in Portland and then assaulted two students who confronted him about his racist language.”

Mills said the students were all freshmen, and are originally from Mexico, Sudan and the Republic of Congo.

Accompanied by two companions, Hoffman, who is white, “began yelling racial epithets … (and) is alleged to have made comments that immigrants should go back to their own countries and they should die,” the complaint says.

In particular, the complaint states that Hoffman used a derogatory word to describe blacks and said “I hate them. They don’t belong here. They should go back to where they came from.”

In addition, he also brandished a screwdriver, which some at the bus stop took for a knife.

When confronted, “Hoffman responded by rushing at a (bi-racial) student and punching him in the head,” the complaint states.

Then, when “a white female student waiting across the street for another METRO bus ran over to check on the (scene) … Hoffman tackled the white female student to the ground.”

This was after the female student and others followed Hoffman along Allen Avenue and she told him, “It’s not just your country; it’s everybody’s country,” the civil rights complaint said.

In the complaint, Mills said Hoffman “intentionally interfered with the victims’ rights to engage in lawful activities without being subject to physical force or threats of violence.”

And, in the press release, Mill said those “who stand up for the rights of immigrants and people of color (also) should not be subject to … acts of violence motivated by the perpetrator’s (own) bias.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Updated Tuesday, April 25, 2017.

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