On July 28, 2017, John Michael Ready, a 26-year old male with no fixed address, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of simple assault in which he selected his victim based on the victim’s race. The Alexandria General District Court sentenced him to 12 months in jail with 9 months suspended conditioned on 1 year of supervised probation, 2 years of uniform good behavior, and his having no contact with the victim in this case. By code, the charge carries a 30-day mandatory minimum sentence.

The evidence showed that on June 14, 2017, Mr. Ready pulled up next to the victim, an African-American man, at a traffic light on Jefferson Davis Highway. He motioned for the victim to roll his window down. When the victim complied, Ready used a racial slur toward the victim. The victim rolled up his window and attempted to pull into the Potomac Yards shopping center as he had originally planned.

Ready also pulled into the parking lot and parked his vehicle. After Ready parked, the victim observed him retrieve a black baseball bat from his trunk. Ready saw the victim and began chasing after his vehicle with the baseball bat. A witness confirmed that Ready was a few feet from the victim’s car and was attempting to strike at it with the bat. The victim eluded Ready until police arrived on scene and was not actually struck or injured during the attack.

Alexandria police responded to the parking lot and detained Ready. While officers spoke with him about the incident, Ready continued to make derogatory remarks about African-Americans. Ready later admitted that the incident was racially motivated.

This case was prosecuted by Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Joseph C. Martin.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Bryan Porter said: “The Code of Virginia punishes assaults motivated by hate more severely – and for good reason. In addition to the obvious risk of physical harm present during an assault, hate-motivated crimes also tend to divide the citizenry by causing segments of society to fear attack simply because of the race or religious group to which they happen to belong. Hate-motivated crimes directly contravene the aspirational words of the founders of our country – that all citizens are created equal and are entitled to equal protection under the law.”

“Proving, in court, that the victim of an assault was selected because of his race or religion can be difficult. Here, the defendant’s own words established the motivation for the assault beyond a reasonable doubt.”

“The Alexandria Police and my office will diligently investigate and prosecute all hate-motivated crimes.”

Ready has completed the active portion of his sentence in jail and has been released under the supervision of a probation officer.

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