Wow. You think you’ve heard everything and then a White House official gets into a brawl with an autistic Native American over the Redskins shirt he is wearing!
Here’s more from the Durango Herald:
Mendoza, 40, an Oglala-Sicangu Lakota, is a political appointee within the U.S. Department of Education. He did not have an official role at the powwow and was attending in a personal capacity with his wife and three children, ages 9, 6 and 2.
Dahl, 28, is a Redskins fan who has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, and is considered a disabled dependent by the state of Oklahoma, where he lives with his parents, according to documents provided to The Durango Herald by his family. He traveled to Washington as part of a field-trip with Fort Lewis College to attend a four-day conference. He is a member of the Sac and Fox tribe of Oklahoma.
The Prince George’s County Police responded to the fight about 11 p.m. but did not issue citations against either man, though both complained of injuries.
In interviews with the Herald, the men each blamed the other for starting the physical altercation.
Mendoza said he approached Dahl to ask why he wore the shirt, and sought to share his concerns
Dahl became defensive, saying, “I don’t have to (expletive) explain (expletive) to you. If you want to step outside and take this outside, I’d be happy to explain it to you,” Mendoza said, reading from notes he took after the altercation.
In an email to The Durango Herald, Dahl said Mendoza instigated the brawl.
“He comes to me, calls me a ‘weetard’ and tells me I am a ‘stupid weetard’ for not understanding that my Redskins shirt is offending him,” Dahl wrote. “He continues to call me an ‘uneducated weetard’ and I tell him to leave me alone. He then spits in my face. I immediately leave the ballroom to GET THE POLICE.”
Mendoza said he had no idea Dahl had autism or is Native American, and he denied spitting at him.
“There was nothing that I had in my mind that said this could be a special-needs adult learner of any kind or anybody with a disability,” he said. “He looked like a man who was being very overt in his attire, and the choice of what he decided to print on the back of his shirt also added a layer.”
According to Mendoza, Dahl stood up and shoved him with his shoulder, knocking him off balance. Mendoza said he went down two escalators before finding an officer with the Prince George’s County Police. He tried to explain the situation, but the officer said he couldn’t do anything about a “guy wearing a shirt that you find offensive,” Mendoza said.
Mendoza said he went up a flight of escalators where he saw Dahl waiting at the top. In an effort to defuse the situation, Mendoza said he extended his arm to shake Dahl’s hand.
“I said, ‘My apologizes for offending you,’” he said.
Mendoza said Dahl threw a cup of coffee in Mendoza’s face, punched him, and in the ensuing melee, both men slipped on the wet floor and fell to the ground.
Mendoza estimated the fight lasted about two minutes. It was broken up by bystanders, he said.
According to Dahl’s version of events, Mendoza followed Dahl out of the ballroom and attacked him at the escalators.
“He is much larger than me, and I try to block his punches and ward him off with my own,” Dahl wrote in his email.
Police interviewed the men separately. Mendoza was given ice for swollen eyes, and Dahl was given ice for a swollen right wrist, according to a police report. Both men declined to be taken to the hospital. But both said they later sought medical attention.
Barrett Dahl said he had fractures to his right forearm, broken teeth and a black eye. He has undergone three surgeries and has seven screws and two plates in his wrist, his father said. He needed a scribe to help him finish the fall and spring semesters.
Barrett Dahl said he has limited use of his right arm: He can no longer hold a pencil, drive a car, lift weights or bounce a basketball.
There’s even more at the Durango Herald so click over to read it.
Regardless of who started it, the White House official, Mendoza, should have known better than to trade blows with an autistic college student over a t-shirt he has every right of wearing.
What a mess.