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Nashville man pleads guilty to hate crimes in attack on Muslim family

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  A Nashville man has pleaded guilty to federal hate crimes following an unprovoked attack on a mid-state Muslim family.

Federal prosecutors say 35-year-old Christopher Beckham has admitted to the assaults in 2017.

The complaint says he confronted two teen girls wearing traditional headscarves, yelling at them as they walked home from school to “Go back to your own country!”

Reports say Beckham attacked the girl’s father and mother when they arrived to pick the girls up, waving a knife and throwing punches.

Beckham was tried for the assaults in 2019, but that case ended in a hung jury.

In a press statement released Monday, federal prosecutors say Beckham “admitted that he carried out this assault because of the actual and perceived religion and national origin of the victims, namely that he perceived them to be Muslim and of a nationality other than American.”

Middle Tennessee Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan commented on the case, noting “An attack upon the free exercise of any person’s religious beliefs is an attack on that person’s civil rights. The Department of Justice will continue to vigorously prosecute such violent acts motivated by hate.”

Beckham will be sentenced in October.

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