Fifty-nine-year-old Glen Nicodemus has been charged with second-degree harassment after telling a teenager he was in the Ku Klux Klan and spraying him with a hose in front of his Rochester, New York, home.
According to police, the incident took place on August 14 following an altercation at a local park close to Nicodemus’ residence. Rochester Police Chief Steven Clancey informed ABC News that the man had a dispute with a group of teens who were reportedly harassing his mother.
According to Clancey, while Nicodemus and the group went their separate ways after the incident at the park, the man spotted one of the teenagers, 14-year-old Jaiden Rodriguez, walking past his home thirty minutes later and began arguing with him.
In a video captured by one of the teens, Nicodemus began taunting Rodriguez, telling him he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and spraying him with water. The teen’s mom, Christina Poles, who posted the video to her Facebook page, said Nicodemus was instigating.
“The video looks like something out of the 1960s,” she told the New York Daily News. “[My son] didn't just go to his house and start messing with him.”
She added that her son was nervous to go to the police about the encounter.
While Clancey said a judge ordered a protective order for Rodriguez in light of the situation, police are saying the incident was not a hate crime, according to the State Police Hate Crimes Unit and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office.
“[Nicodemus] said some stupid things … but there's no hate crime here. Just harassment,” Clancey said.
Poles responded to the decision by saying, "It's like the laxest punishment I've ever seen.”
Nicodemus has been released since his arraignment on Wednesday and is set to report to pre-trial release under supervision.
Although Rodriguez's encounter was not ruled as a hate crime, a recent report from The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hateful incidents have risen 9% in 30 major American cities over the past year. Additionally, a CNN article found that the national statistics on hate crimes from the FBI are "deeply flawed" as they rely on voluntary reporting and unclear terms on what defines a hate crime. In the same article, CNN reported that Heather Heyer's death during the 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, was not initially reported on the FBI's hate crime list.
"If that's not a hate crime, what is?" Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, said. "It makes you wonder what else has been missed, how many other people have been missed?"