Like every alleged hate crime, media rushed to report the alleged crime before any evidence was even collected, let alone a suspect identified.
Such was the case of the swastikas drawn outside Union Station in Washington, D.C. A CBS reported tweeted photos of the swastikas, while The Washington Post wrote up the story on January 28 repeating police suspicions the person could have “mental health challenges.” When the Post produced a follow-up story about the man arrested for the drawings, it left details about his citizenship and criminal past. Here’s how the post described the man arrested:
Geraldo Pando, 34, who has no fixed address, was charged with displaying certain emblems and defacing public and private property, a misdemeanor and a felony under D.C. law punishable by up to one year and up to 10 years in prison, respectively, according to police and charging papers.
The Washington Examiner, however, reported that Pando “is a Mexican citizen with a 15-year criminal history who has been deported twice but still does not meet Biden administration standards for arrest or removal.”
“Arrest records obtained exclusively by the Washington Examiner reveal that Pando had an extensive, 35-page criminal history in Colorado before he arrived in the District of Columbia recently. Despite his record, Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not attempt to take him into federal custody after his Union Station arrest so that he could face deportation proceedings in court, instead allowing him to remain in the United States,” the Examiner reported. “Pando had also been detained and arrested a week prior to the Union Station incident for vandalizing the U.S. Capitol Police headquarters, according to a senior Senate aide familiar with Pando’s run-ins with federal, state, and local law enforcement. Capitol Police released him because ICE did not ask that he be detained until he could be transferred into federal custody. Capitol Police and ICE did not respond to requests for comment.”
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), ranking member on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, told the outlet that Pando shouldn’t have even been in the country in order to draw the swastikas.
“The criminal who defaced Union Station with antisemitic symbols, Geraldo Pando, should not have been able to commit this act of hatred. He is a convicted felon and an unlawful migrant with a criminal history of deportations and arrests, including for assault on a first responder,” Portman told the outlet.
“It is inexcusable that ICE did not process him and he was released back into the community to commit such a heinous crime,” Portman added. “This administration’s poor policies and reluctance to remove criminals from our streets continue to result in additional harm to our country.”
Pando was reportedly identified after police determined his shoes and jacket matched those worn in surveillance footage of the incident.
Pando’s 15-year criminal history began in Aurora, Colorado, in February 2006, when he was arrested for numerous drug offenses and for driving without a license and proof of insurance. He has also been arrested for felony drug and trespassing charges, various misdemeanor theft charges, and harassment.
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