WASHINGTON, D.C. – An Oklahoma man who has autism was allegedly brutally attacked by a presidential appointee at a powwow over a shirt.
“He saw my shirt, and it set him off. From the minute he saw it, he had an agenda,” said 28-year-old Barrett Dahl.
Dahl said it all started with a Redskins shirt.
“He comes to me and says you’re a ‘weetard’ for wearing a Redskins skirt. He says where are you from that you’re such a ‘weetard’ you don’t understand that you’re offending me? I tell him I’m from Oklahoma,” Dahl said.
Dahl was attending a powwow in D.C. with his college, Fort Lewis College in Colorado, when this happened.
The man he’s referring to is Bill Mendoza, a political appointee within the U.S. Department of Education.
“He spits right in my face. The boy sitting next to me sees it. He doesn’t say anything. So, I get up and leave the ballroom to get the police,” Dahl said.
Dahl said Mendoza followed him into the hallway and started beating him.
Dahl said he had fractures to his arm, broken teeth and a black eye and he had to have three surgeries.
“The financial aftermath. Right now, the medical bills have soured over $40,000. There’s going to be tons of additional legal fees,” Dahl said.
Due to medical costs, Dahl said his parents are facing foreclosure.
Mendoza told the Durango Herald in Colorado he followed Dahl out of the ballroom to apologize.
He claims Dahl started the fight, throwing a cup of coffee in his face and punching him.
Dahl claims those are lies.
“What bothers me the most about this, first off, we’ve lost everything we have and he’s lost nothing. He’s kept his job, his home, his family. And, second off, there’s not a doubt in my mind that this person would do the same thing to a young child who was wearing a Redskins shirt,” Dahl said.
Dahl is part of the Sac and Fox Nation.
He and people from tribes all over the country are asking for Mendoza’s resignation.
Mendoza’s attorney, Mark S. Zaid, said Dahl’s accusations about the incident are false.
“Mr. Dahl and his family have for reasons unknown embarked upon a vendetta against a respected U.S. Government official who represents the interests of Native Americans across this country,” Zaid said in a statement to KFOR. “Their accounting of the event is false and defamatory and is completely contradicted by multiple third-party, unbiased witnesses. Should Mr. Dahl continue to malign Mr. Mendoza he will have no other choice but to pursue all available legal remedies.”
Dahl also has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for medical costs.