Police in Iowa have added a hate crime to the attempted murder charge facing a driver who officials said told them she ran over a 14-year-old girl because the teenager was Mexican. Nicole Marie Poole Franklin of Des Moines now faces another attempted murder charge, as well. Des Moines police announced Monday that Franklin is charged in a hit-and-run that took place less than an hour before the girl was struck. A 12-year-old boy suffered minor injuries when a vehicle went onto the sidewalk at an apartment complex and hit him, the AP reports. Franklin later hit Natalia Miranda with her SUV, police said.
The League of United Latin American Citizens and the Council on American-Islamic Relations had urged that a hate crime charge be filed against Franklin, per the Des Moines Register. The new charge, a felony, is assault in violation of individual rights. The charge could enhance the penalties Franklin faces on the other charges, if she's convicted. LULAC's national president cited FBI statistics showing that hate crimes against Latinos in the US have increased for the third straight year, according to FBI data. Overall, the increase has been 41% since 2016. The organization attributed the attack to "blind rage over the color of the victim's skin," per the New York Post. "To commit this crime without pursuing a hate-crime charge would be wrong," Domingo Garcia said. "It would give the green light to anybody to do this type of terrible thing." (Read more hate crime stories.)