An Arkansas man pleaded guilty to committing, and conspiring to commit, a federal hate crime. Sean Popejoy, 19, from Green Forest, conspired to injure five Hispanic men who pulled into a gas station on the morning of June 20, 2010. From the Department of Justice news release:
This is the first conviction for a violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which was enacted in October 2009... “James Byrd, Jr. and Matthew Shepard were brutally murdered more than a decade ago, and today the first defendant is convicted for a hate crime under the critical new law enacted in their names,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “It is unacceptable that violent acts of hate committed because of someone’s race continue to occur in 2011, and the department will continue to use every available tool to identify and prosecute hate crimes whenever and wherever they occur."