TORRANCE, Calif. — A husband and wife in Southern California were arrested last week on hate crime and vandalism charges. The incident reportedly occurred after the suspects got out of their truck at a traffic signal, performed a Nazi salute and shouted “only white lives matter” at a black man and his girlfriend as they used a shovel to strike the victim’s car.
Gregory and Rachel Howell, both 29, were arrested on Friday on vandalism and hate crime charges, the Torrance Police Department said in a press release. Both were released the same day on bail, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office records.
— Torrance Police (@TorrancePD) August 1, 2020
A woman named Itzel Lopez said she was in the passenger seat while her boyfriend, who is black, was driving home from her birthday party on the night of July 23 when they noticed two people in a pickup truck following behind them for several minutes, KTLA reported.
She said the pickup truck cut in front of them while approaching a red light at the intersection of Artesia Boulevard and Prairie Avenue around 10:30 p.m. in Torrance, Calif. The road rage situation soon escalated and Lopez began recording on her cellphone when a man and woman hopped out of their pickup and approached the vehicle she was riding in.
The video posted on Lopez’s Instagram shows a woman, identified as Rachel Howell, flipping her the middle finger and shouting “all lives matter b****.” She then yells, “Only white lives matter.” The man identified as Gregory Howell is shown yelling “white power” and making a Nazi hand salute. He then retrieves a shovel and allegedly hits the victims’ car as they drove away. The driver’s side mirror of the victims’ vehicle was also damaged at some point before Lopez and her boyfriend drove off.
“We tried to get away. She kept standing in front of the car, and wouldn’t let us leave,” Lopez said.
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On my birthday JULY 22. 2020 I experience racism in a extremely traumatic way. Today on my 25th birthday I was a victim of racism and so was my boyfriend who is black. We were being harassed for miles . Until we came to a red light . When all this happened They hit the car . Cause damaged to his car . This happened on Artesia and Prairie around 10:23pm. We ended up getting away from there . We got there license plate . Please share ! This happened in the city of Torrance CA. LICENSE PLATE: 51922T2 UPDATE : NO ARREST HAS BEEN MADE . It’s been 10 days. UPDATE #2 : An ARREST was made July 31st. August 1st they were release out on bail. | | #RACISMh #Share #black lives matter #blmanhwa
“We were just in shock. We didn’t know what was going on,” Lopez told KTLA. “Never in my life did I think I was going to experience this. It’s actually really scary. They don’t even know you and they’re willing to hurt you.”
The victims filed a report with the Torrance Police Department the next day on July 23. Arrest warrants were issued on July 24. Both suspects were located and arrested a week later on Friday.
“We want to get justice because it’s not right,” Lopez said last week. “I don’t want them to just go freely and continue to do this to someone else.”