Arkansas Casino Alleges Man Made Threats, Racist Comments to Asian American

Posted on: March 29, 2021, 07:17h. 

Last updated on: March 29, 2021, 10:55h.

Outrage is spreading over a violent confrontation at Arkansas’ Oaklawn Casino, where a fire captain allegedly hurled racial insults and threatened to kill an Asian American man earlier this month.

Snodgrass was placed on leave from his fire department job pending an investigation
Fire Capt. Benjamin Snodgrass, left, and casino visitor Liem Nguyen, shown above. Snodgrass allegedly threatened and made racial comments toward Nguyen outside of Arkansas’ Oaklawn Casino. (Images: Garland County jail, KATV)

Eventually, Bentonville, Ark. Fire Captain Benjamin Snodgrass was arrested. Both he and Liem Nguyen suffered injuries in the March 13 struggle outside of the Hot Springs casino.

During the confrontation, Nguyen said Snodgrass approached him while he waited for an Uber.

I’m going to kill you and kill your kind of people,” Snodgrass reportedly told Nguyen.

Snodgrass allegedly told him, “Your kind of people is not supposed to be here,” Nguyen said. Snodgrass then attached Nguyen. Nguyen fought back.

He kept on pushing me, pushing me, grabbed me. So, I have to defend myself by hitting him,” Nguyen said.

When officers arrived, they noticed Snodgrass’ eyes were bloodshot and watery. He also smelled like alcohol, according to a police report quoted by local media. Snodgrass appeared incoherent and complained of the situation in the casino.

“I don’t know, man, they are pumping gasses into this place, and something is not right,” Snodgrass told an officer. When asked about the confrontation, Snodgrass replied, “I don’t know guys, I’m hammered.” This statement was recorded by police body cams.

Snodgrass confirmed he confronted the Asian man about not being American. But he denied anything else took place.

Snodgrass had a bloody left earlobe, bloody lips, and redness on his knuckles, police said. Nguyen suffered a red mark below his left eye, a scratch on his right knee, and his shirt was ripped open.

Charges Filed Against Snodgrass

In a statement released to, Oaklawn Casino said an employee contacted casino security about the disturbance. Security officers went to investigate and then contacted the local police department.

Local police later charged Snodgrass with third-degree battery and public intoxication. Snodgrass refused to take a portable breath test.

Snodgrass was placed on leave from his fire department job pending an investigation, KSFN, a local TV station, said.

Since the incident, Snodgrass also was ordered to have no contact with the victim, KNWA, another local station, reported.

Hate Crimes Against Asians on Rise

The incident concerned several members of the University of Arkansas faculty who were contacted for comments by

“Like so many others who are part of immigrant communities, being in America and being American is something many Asian Americans cherish, and incidents like this can be jarring,” Kimberly Vu-Dinh, an assistant professor at the university’s law school, said.

What makes this event particularly disconcerting is that Snodgrass is a public servant who is paid to protect the lives and properties of others,” Vu-Dinh added.

“The fact of the matter is, racism is not only scary, but it’s also just bad for the economy, and whether government officials — and also Oaklawn Casino’s owners — let violent, racist behavior go is something people of that target demographic notice, and they’ll speak their minds with their bank accounts.”

She also noted the recent increased violence nationally against Asian Americans.

It is clearly related to the pandemic, and the way it has been handled by government authorities breeds this kind of racism, beginning with former President Trump calling it ‘the China Virus,’” Vu-Dinh told

Ka Zeng, a political scientist and director of the university’s Asian Studies program, added, “It is unfortunate to see the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans throughout the country.

“Asian Americans are also the victims of the virus. The pandemic has changed the lives for billions of people worldwide, including Chinese and other populations in Asia. Shifting the blame for the pandemic to Asian Americans can only exacerbate racial divide and undermine the diversity and inclusiveness that have made America such a great nation in the first place.”

Assailant Allegedly Fueled by Hate

Also, Jordan Blair Woods, associate professor of law and faculty director of the Richard B. Atkinson Program on LGBTQ Law & Policy at the University of Arkansas School of Law, told some of Snodgrass’ statements “are concerning.

The perpetrator’s use of bias language is a key piece of evidence that demonstrates that a criminal act of violence was motivated by hate,” Woods said.

“The incident fits into a troubling pattern of increasing reports of hate crimes and violence against Asian individuals in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Woods continued. “Hate crimes have devastating effects beyond individual victims and instill fear in targeted communities.”

Arkansas does not have a hate crime law.

Neither Snodgrass nor his attorney provided comments to local media.

Earlier Violence Against Asian-Americans

Earlier this year in Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Chinatown, an Asian man, identified as Yong Zheng, interceded during a struggle involving some other Asian men. The good Samaritan later died from a stabbing.

He stepped into the confrontation given the rise in crime directed against Asian Americans, according to WABC, a local TV station.