The Department of Justice recognised the kids were targeted “because of their race and national origin.”
A woman in the US who admitted to purposely driving into two children because of their race has been sentenced to 25 years in federal prison.
Nicole Poole Franklin, a white woman from Iowa, pleaded guilty in April to federal hate crime charges for when she drove into a 12-year-old boy, who is black, and a 14-year-old girl, who is Hispanic, in December 2019.
The Department of Justice said the 43-year-old targeted the children specifically “because of their race and national origin.”
Prosecutors say she was driving her Jeep Grand Cherokee in the city of Des Moines when she saw the 12-year-old boy walking on the sidewalk with his sibling, who is also a minor.
“Upon seeing the children and believing that the victim was of Middle Eastern or African descent, Poole Franklin drove her vehicle over the curb towards both children, striking one of them,” the Justice Department said in a press release.
The boy suffered bruising and cuts but was not hospitalised.
About a half hour after speeding away from the first victim, she spotted the 14-year-old girl walking near a high school. She again drove her Jeep over the curb before striking the teen and driving away.
The girl made her way to the school to seek help and required hospitalisation to treat serious injuries such as a concussion and bruises, according to court documents.
Poole Franklin was arrested later that same day for an unrelated incident during which she allegedly tried to shoplift at a convenience store and then began yelling racial slurs when confronted by staff, NBC News reports.
Days later when she was in custody, the police connected her to the hit-and-runs.
When questioned, she told police she ran over the boy because she believed “he’s just like ISIS” and “he’s not supposed to be there and he’s going to take me out,” court documents state.
The documents also state she said she struck the girl because she “wasn’t supposed to be in the country” and said Hispanic people were “takin’ over … our homes, and our jobs.”
Poole Franklin’s federal sentence will run concurrently to a state sentence of the same length for attempted murder charges.
Local paper the Des Moines Register reported on a hearing before the sentencing, during which victim impact statements were given.
The girl told Poole Franklin: “I’m sorry my skin colour bothered you, but me and my people are never leaving.”
Her father added his “hope disappeared” as a result of the attack.
“My belief that I was free in this country was gone,” he said. “I don’t hate you because I don’t want to feel what you feel to my daughter. I hope you change because human beings can never live like this.”
The father of the injured boy reportedly said his son struggled with aggression and anger after the attack. “I know it’s going to affect his life, so I’m just trying to help him,” he said.