The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating an alleged attack on a Black woman as a hate crime after she reported being hit, pepper-sprayed and called the N-word by Trump supporters. Berlinda Nipo, 25, was walking to breakfast on Wednesday morning when she said Trump demonstrators began heckling her and shouting n****r as she passed.
A "Stop the Steal" protest outside Los Angeles City Hall was taking place at the same time rioters in Washington, D.C. were storming the Capitol. Nipo said Trump supporters began by asking who she voted for, then started shouting "white lives matter," and calling her the racial epithet. That's when she flipped them the bird and told them they should be wearing masks and to leave her alone.
Cellphone video appears to show her being swarmed and pepper-sprayed. "I thought I was going to die," Nibo told BuzzFeed News. "If I didn't stand up for myself, this group of people were going to beat me to death. I kept telling myself, 'Don't fall down because you'll get stamped.'"
Police asked for the public's help in identifying two people of interest Monday in the incident. Photos of two white men were posted to the department's twitter account.
One is pictured wearing a backwards baseball cap and what appears to be a tactical vest. He was described as being in his 30s with brown eyes and measuring about 6 feet tall. The other was described as being in his early 40s and 6 feet tall.
A freelance photographer captured images of her being wrapped in a bear hug by one demonstrator, who marches her away from the crowd.
"I got you, calm down, these people are going to try to kill you." Nibo quoted him as saying. While he was carrying her, another person pepper-sprayed her in the face, she said.
She initially called the man who grabbed her a "hero," but later appeared to reconsider that description.
"It did not help me," Nibo told BuzzFeed. "It would've helped me more if he had made way for me to move out of there completely."
Photographer Raquel Natalicchio told NBC News she began chronicling what happened to the young woman when the confrontation began. "As soon as she told them to put a mask on, they swarmed her and circled her and started pushing her around amongst them, and trying to intimidate her," she said.
“I’m just thinking, like, wow, I am literally being targeted right now because I am the only Black girl here walking around, and to them I am easy prey because I’m a girl,” Nibo told the Los Angeles Times.
In a video posted after the incident, a woman with a Trump flag over her shoulder is seen holding Nibo's wig and shouting, "I did that. I did the first scalping of the new civil war."
In a post on its Twitter page, the Los Angeles Police Department said, "The woman has been identified & interviewed by the LAPD. Based on her statements & other evidence, a hate crime/battery report was taken."