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'Out of everybody, why us?' | Police aren't ruling out alleged assault at Cal Expo as hate incident

A man confronted a young couple, calling them misgendered names and a racial slur before punching them both.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Cal-Expo and State Fair Police Department are investigating an alleged attack that happened after an event at Cal Expo on Sept. 18. A man confronted a young couple, calling them misgendered names and a racial slur before punching them both.

“They walked behind us and he goes, ‘Thanks for kicking our car, you stupid (expletive),’” said 20-year-old Destiny Ragan.

Ragan and her girlfriend Ajalai Perry were leaving the Country in the Park event at Cal Expo when they said a man began verbally harassing them. They said the confrontation began after Perry had kicked a can underneath their car, which rolled toward the man’s vehicle.

Ragan and Perry said the man continued to argue with them, using a racial slur while accusing them of hitting his car with the piece trash.

“He’s like, ‘you’re not a girl, you’re a man,’” Ragan said.

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They said after minutes of argument and attempted de-escalation, the man then hit both of them.

“I look over to say, ‘Ajalai, let’s go,’ and he just knocks me in my face,” Ragan said. “I was just blindsided. I didn’t see it coming. All I remember is hitting my head on my car and then I heard my girlfriend get slapped.”

After being punched, the couple said they left after taking a photo of the man’s license plate. They believe the incident was racially motivated.

“Out of everybody, why us?” Ragan asked. “Some of the things he said, it wasn’t OK at all.”

Cal Expo and State Fair Police Department told ABC10, they were not jumping to conclusions and had not ruled out the incident as a hate crime.

“It’s just unfortunate,” said Alexis Sanchez, Sacramento LQBT community center Director of Advocacy and Training.

Sanchez, who specializes in hate and bias related incidents and statistics said hate crimes and bias incidents had continued to go up for the last 5 years, nationally and in the Northern California region.

“It’s something that isn’t going away,” she said. “Our community has been seeing more visibility lately, but I always say, visibility-- it’s a double-edged sword. Future generations and young folks can see themselves represented and they can see there’s a bright future for [them] and [they’re] not alone, but on the other side, people who seek to marginalize us take that visibility as a threat and act out in ways, such as what the couple experienced at Cal Expo.”

Ragan and Perry said people were walking by when they were being confronted in the Cal Expo parking lot. Sanchez noted that in order to prevent such crimes, allies should consider intervening when they see someone being harassed.

“If you paint yourself as an ally, doing bystander intervention, it’s vital and it can be lifesaving for those who are marginalized,” she explained.

Ragan said she was still in pain and had to take time off work after the incident.

“It’s this side,” Ragan said, motioning to her right cheek. “It really hurts, like the jaw part, you know?”

She explained that, while she wanted the whole thing to be over, she’d also wanted justice.

California Exposition and State Fair Police Department told ABC10 that they potentially had a suspect and would continue to move forward in their investigation.

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