SACRAMENTO — A federal jury convicted a San Francisco man of a federal hate crime Wednesday for his assault nearly two years ago of an African-American male in a bar in Chico, where the attacker used to reside.
Eric Clawson, 28, was convicted following a three-day trial. The evidence at trial showed that on the evening of July 6, 2008, Clawson entered Riley’s Bar & Grill in Chico while the victim was sitting inside with a friend. Shortly after entering the bar, Clawson used a racially derogatory term to object to the victim’s presence. Clawson repeated this slur several times and, a short while later, without any verbal or physical provocation, approached and punched the victim in the face. The punch rendered the victim unconscious and inflicted injuries to his face and mouth.
A second defendant who was with Clawson when the assault took place, Joe Grivette, pleaded guilty on March 15 to a related charge of concealing a felony.
“Bias-motivated acts of violence are offensive to our nation’s fundamental values of equal rights and equal justice. Such acts of violence have no place in our country,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. “The Justice Department is committed to vigorously prosecuting the federal laws prohibiting violent acts motivated by hate.”
Clawson faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing is scheduled for June 10. He was remanded into custody following the March 24 verdict.
Agents from the Sacramento Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, investigators from the Butte County District Attorney’s Office and the Chico Police Department investigated the matter. The case is being jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Carlberg of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California and Trial Attorney Edward Chung of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.