Late last week, a viral video surfaced of two college students facing off over a red Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” cap. In the video, Edith Macias is seen brandishing the cap of fellow student Matthew Vitale. Macias had snatched the hat off of Vitale’s head following a conference the two were attending on the University of California, Riverside campus. (Warning: The video contains strong language).
Macias is seen taking the hat to the university’s student life office, demanding something be done about the hat and Vitale. “This belongs to me. I bought it and she took it from me,” Vitale can be heard saying off-camera.
“Look at the kind of s*** he’s wearing,” Macias responds. “This represents genocide of a bunch of people.”
The two then proceed to argue over issues including freedom of speech and personal property, among other topics, while the university staff attempt to quell the intense emotions of the moment. After nine minutes of discussion and arguing, the staff finally return Vitale’s hat to him and the campus police show up to deal with the situation.
Following the initial frenzy over the video on social media — anywhere the video or story is posted typically racks up thousands of comments — Vitale stated that he did not wish to press charges, as he believed it would amount to misdemeanor penalties.
Vitale’s own video didn’t show the theft happening, but a video that Macias herself uploaded following the events did reveal the incident. Vitale soon learned from campus police that the release of that video showing Macias taking the hat off of Vitale could possibly lead to felony charges, and the Republican student then decided to proceed.
As Vitale stated in an interview with Fox News Radio, “Honestly, this isn’t me trying to get revenge on her. This is me just trying to say, ‘Look, behavior like this is not tolerated in this country. There are individual rights and individual freedoms that we are granted as per the Constitution, that everybody’s granted. It doesn’t matter what your beliefs are.’”
California’s penal code states, “Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.” If Macias is found guilty of robbery, she could face two to five years of prison, according to the state law.
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