Two Milwaukee women have been charged with hate crimes after police said they attacked a group of Muslim women in a park late last month.

Miracle Reed, 34, and Payton Smith, 30, face one felony and five misdemeanor charges after allegedly attacking the women on July 30 in Cathedral Square Park in downtown Milwaukee. 

Four Muslim women and about 10 children were in the park on Sunday afternoon. According to the criminal complaint, one of the women noticed someone giving them “dirty looks.” After returning from praying, one of the Muslim women heard a nearby woman in the park say, “We’re Black, aggressive women, and we’re going to defend our own kind,” according to the complaint. 

The Muslim women told police they tried to ignore the other women in the park, but one of the victims said the attacker grabbed her neck, put her in a headlock and started punching her.

Another alleged attacker began punching another victim, according to the complaint. During the fight, the attackers allegedly ripped off the women’s hijabs, the head coverings worn by many Muslim women in public. 

An older man broke up the fight in the park, according to the complaint.  

Two victims were treated and released from Aurora Sinai Medical Center. One woman suffered a broken nose and facial bruising. The other woman’s face was also bruised, according to the complaint.  

Cellphone video of the attack was aired on CBS 58 in Milwaukee. During an interview with police, Reed and Smith were shown the video.  

Reed denied attacking the victims and said she did not remember the incident. According to the complaint, Reed said she has post-partum depression, and she told police that occasionally she “blacks out” and does not remember things.  

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Smith admitted to hitting two victims twice each and admitted she was in the CBS 58 video and stated she had seen the video on the news, according to the complaint.  

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson called the attack “horrific and unacceptable.” 

“While any violence is intolerable, it is especially egregious when victims are targeted because of their appearance or their religious beliefs,” Johnson said in a statement. “My thoughts are with the victims and their families.” 

Wisconsin law provides for additional punishments against those found to have targeted their crimes against people due to the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation or other protected characteristics. 

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said over the last 10 years, the hate crime enhancer has been used about 10 times. The hate crime enhancer increases the sentence by an additional five years in prison and/or a fine by another $5,000, under Wisconsin law. 

“People really ought to be able to sit in county parks, with their kids and enjoy the benefits of summer without being assaulted because the clothing they’re wearing identifies them of a particular religious affiliation,” Chisholm said. “That’s a baseline expectation of living together in a civil society.”  

In 2022, West Allis man was charged of a hate crime by federal authorities for reportedly terrorizing his Black neighbors by slashing their tires, shattering their windshield and leaving threatening notes. 

The last hate crime charged by the Milwaukee County DA’s office was against a Milwaukee man who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for throwing acid in another man’s face after calling him “illegal.”