CUPERTINO, Calif. – A 61-year-old man is charged with a violent hate crime in Cupertino. Santa Clara County prosecutors allege Clifford Ray Stewart, 61, attacked a worker at a cellphone store after he simply tried to retrieve a sign that said the man had vandalized.
Stewart was scheduled to appear before a judge Friday at the Palo Alto courthouse. He refused to be transported to his hearing and so the judge ordered that he be kept in detention without bail. The alleged crime occurred on June 1 at a T-Mobile store in the 20800 block of Stevens Creek Boulevard in Cupertino.
When the two employees who were working at the time came out to retrieve the sign, prosecutors said he threatened them both – and attacked one – solely on the basis of their race.
“Two store employees, one Hispanic woman and the other an Asian man, went to retrieve the sign and the accused then proceeded to yell and shout at both of them – telling them to go back where they came from and calling it ethnic slurs,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said.
Prosecutors said Stewart allegedly shouted “(expletive) Chinese, you don’t belong here” and “stupid Mexicans.”
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Rosen said that’s when the violence started. “Then he attacked the Hispanic woman, kicked her in the stomach, punched her in the face. She temporarily lost her sight. She was taken to the hospital,” Rosen said.
Stewart then reportedly fled to a nearby sporting goods store, but was arrested shortly after by county sheriff’s deputies. Prosecutors said Stewart also verbally assaulted the deputy who arrested him by calling him racial epithets and allegedly threatened to kill him. He said, “All of you (expletives) sneak into this country, have a baby, and get a free apartment,” according to the district attorney’s office.
Stewart now faces hate crime and assault charges for his attack on the Hispanic T-Mobile worker and also a misdemeanor for later threatening the Hispanic deputy who arrested him after employees from the store called 9-1-1.
Rosen said his office prosecuted more hate crime cases in 2021 than ever before and the trend was concerning. “That’s wrong,” Rosen said. “I’m here because it’s a very diverse community we live in and for the most part people get along and respect each other. But we’ve had some outliers and those people need to be held accountable. what they’ve done,” Rosen said.
Rosen says it’s quite unusual for a defendant to refuse to appear in court, but there are ways to move forward in such cases should it become necessary. The judge ordered a new hearing for Monday, June 6. Stewart will remain behind bars without bond until then.
Bay City News contributed to this report.