SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI (WPRI) – The South Kingstown Town Solicitor is looking into whether a man who unleashed an anti-Muslim tirade on a store clerk on Christmas Eve should be charged with a hate crime, the Target 12 Investigators have learned.
Thomas Giese, 37, of Exeter, screamed at the Ravi Food Mart clerk late Christmas Eve after the clerk could not help him hail a cab.
Giese was charged with disorderly conduct, which is a misdemeanor, and also a civil penalty for marijuana possession.
But South Kingstown Police Captain Joel Ewing-Chow said the town is examining the surveillance video that captured Giese’s tirade.
“We will be discussing with our Solicitor if the Hate Crime Statute will be applied to the charge,” Ewing-Chow said. “The statute is used as a penalty enhancement for the original charges.”
He said that means Giese could get a stiffer sentence if he is also charged with a hate crime.
The arrest report indicates that Giese told police he had 10 drinks before the incident and began thinking of the 9/11 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center.
“This upset him,” the report states. “Because he allegedly had friends who worked there.”
Target 12 reached Giese by phone and through email and he now claims he was set off when the clerk made remarks about Christmas.
“He was brazen enough to start bad mouthing Christmas,” Giese said. “That’s when I flipped.”
But we listened to the entire recording, and the clerk does not say anything about Christmas. He did ask Giese to leave and called police, but his words are peppered by Giese yelling a variety of slurs
“We don’t want Muslim stores in our neighborhood,” Giese said before he left. “No Muslim stores in our neighborhood!”
The charge on Christmas Eve was the fourth misdemeanor filed against Giese within 8 months, including one count of leaving the scene of an accident in Charlestown earlier this month.