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A 61-year-old Michigan man, Kenneth Pilon, has been charged with hate crimes after he allegedly terrorized citizens by leaving hateful handwritten letters and nooses around his community. The people he is accused of terrorizing support Black Lives Matter, according to the Justice Department on April 27, 2022.
Pilon was charged with six counts of federally protected activities for incidents that date back to the summer of 2020 — during the nationwide protests after George Floyd’s murder. On May 25, 2020, Floyd’s life was taken from him when a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
In an affidavit, Michigan authorities state that the suspect went around to businesses in Saginaw leaving nooses with a hateful note attached. The note read: “An accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ t-shirt. Happy protesting!”
The hate crimes took place in several places around the city including inside a beverage cooler at a 7-Eleven and in a Walmart and Goodwill’s parking lot. He also left his hateful note/noose combo in a truck owned by Regina Simon, who is Mexican and white, and her now ex-husband Donald Simon is Black.
Regina believes her family was targeted because the accused saw her wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt that her son made for her when he drove past her house. The next day her husband found the note and noose when he went to grab some coffee.
A Michigan man who allegedly left nooses and racist handwritten notes around his community and made threatening phone calls to Starbucks workers to stop people from supporting #BLM was charged with hate crimes, the Justice Department said Wednesday.https://t.co/VhwBrUayUL
— Minyvonne Burke (@minyvonneb) April 27, 2022
“When [Donald] got into his truck, he noticed [on] the side of the door was this noose with a note attached to it. At first, I’m thinking [it was] a joke, somebody trying to be funny but then I’m like this isn’t funny,” she stated.
“I can’t understand that this racism is still alive,” he said, adding that he felt “violated.”
The Michigan woman took a picture of the noose and note and posted it on Facebook. The NAACP contacted Regina, which in turn got the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) involved.
Not wanting to be intimidated by a note, Simon and her family held a protest in their community. She stated she wanted her young daughter to know the importance of standing up for what you believe in.
She added that they were “aware that there are people who have that feeling in their heart.” However, they were “not going to change the way that we live. I’m not going to let somebody bring hate to our door and make us change who we are.”
Michigan authorities also allege that Pilon called several Starbucks stores in and around the city leaving derogatory messages. Purportedly, whenever a worker would answer Pilon would say, “Tell the Starbucks workers wearing [Black Lives Matter] shirts that the only good [explicit] is a dead [explicit].” The alleged Michigan racist reportedly told another employee that he disliked the BLM t-shirts, adding that he was “gonna go out and lynch me a [explicit],” according to the affidavit.
The Michigan man wanted to intimidate individuals “from participating lawfully in speech and peaceful assembly opposing the denial of Black people’s right to enjoy police protection and services free from brutality,” according to federal officials.
Written by Sheena Robertson
NBC News: Michigan man charged with hate crimes after he allegedly left nooses, racist notes around community; by Minyvonne Burke
CBS News: Michigan man who allegedly left nooses for BLM supporters, threatened to lynch Black people charged with hate crimes; by Tori B. Powell
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Wigwam Jones’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of elaine ross baylon’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License