Missouri man Tommy Dean Gaa has been arrested and charged with a hate crime for allegedly saying a disturbing comment to his black waitress.
“I have a place I would like to take you where I hung your grandpa.”
The waitress had reportedly asked Gaa if he wanted “white or wheat toast,” according to The Root. At this point, he allegedly answered that he was “prejudiced” and so that meant he would take white toast — this coming from a probable cause statement posted at the Maryville Daily Forum.
He was also accused of grabbing the waitress’s arm “so hard it left a bruise,” The Root adds, noting that he then posed the question of whether she “liked to party.”
That’s when he delivered the chilling “hung your grandpa” line that prompted the waitress to leave the dining area and call police. She was waiting in the kitchen when they showed up to arrest the 65-year-old and place him in the Nodaway County Jail.
Tommy Dean Gaa initially denied saying anything, but police stated that he then dropped a “few racial slurs in trying to explain his innocence.” He’s being held on a $4,900 bond.
Many commenters were appalled at the altercation with one woman from the southwest Missouri area having this to say on The Root message board.
“I live in SW MO and this is sadly the norm! It’s horrific and embarrassing! Need to get the h*** out of Dodge!”
Some disagreed that the arrest of Tommy Dean Gaa was worthy of the “hate crime” distinction, or that he should have been arrested at all.
“Is this guy a racist scumbag?…..YES…. But, there’s no law against being a racist scumbag, so on what grounds was he arrested? The dining establishment had the right to throw him out but if we’re going to arrest people for stupid racial slurs there’s going to be a lot of people in jail…. We still have freedom of speech.”
Others pointed out that the fact Gaa grabbed the waitress hard enough to leave a bruise and then made the “hung your grandpa” comment could constitute terroristic threatening.
Initial reports have made no indication the suspect had a history of violence or a history of persecuting individuals based on race, though this could certainly be an omission. It will be hard to say for sure until more information is released on his rap sheet, if he had one prior to the incident.
But what do you think about this case, readers? Was the waitress “assaulted” and if not, should an arrest have been made?
Furthermore, do you think Tommy Dean Gaa should be guilty of a hate crime?