Man charged with hate crimes after finding loopholes and racist remarks

A Michigan man accused of trying to intimidate Black Lives Matter supporters by leaving loops and threatening notes in his community and making racist threats in phone calls has been charged with hate crimes, the U.S. Department of Justice said Wednesday.

The man, Kenneth Pilon, 61, faces six counts of meddling in federally protected activities after racist notes were found in Saginaw, Mich., And racist calls were made to Starbucks stores in the summer of 2020, U.S. prosecutors said in a U.S. lawsuit. . Michigan’s Eastern District.

The threats described by prosecutors were aimed at people wearing T-shirts promoting Black Lives Matter, the racial justice movement that saw an increase in support after George Floyd was assassinated by a Minneapolis police officer on May 25, 2020.

Mr. Pilon’s attorney did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.

Prosecutors said that between late June and mid-July 2020, Mr Pilon left five loops with handwritten notes saying, “An accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ T-shirt. Good protest!” They were left in parking lots, inside a vehicle and in a beverage cooler inside a 7-Eleven, prosecutors said.

On June 14, 2020, a week before the loops appeared, Mr. Pilon nine racist phone calls to nine different Starbucks stores in Michigan, according to court papers.

Two days earlier, Starbucks had announced that it would ship Black Lives Matter T-shirts to its stores after initially banning workers from wearing clothing with the phrase because it could “amplify division.”

Sir. Pilon used a racist slander on every call to Starbucks locations in and near Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. In seven of the calls, he either said he did not like Black Lives Matter T-shirts or told the person who picked up the phone to make a racist comment to workers wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, prosecutors said.

Regina Simon of Saginaw told The Detroit Free Press that in 2020, she and her husband, Donald Simon, found two of the loops and thought they were being followed.

Mrs. Simon told that the couple was playing in their patio with their puppy and wore Black Lives Matter shirts one Saturday morning in July 2020. The next day, Mr. Simon a loop and a threatening note in their vehicle, which had been parked in their driveway with the window partially open overnight.

About five days later, the couple found another loop and note in a Walmart parking lot next to a wagon fence. They organized a Black Lives Matter meeting in their home in response, believing that the person responsible for the racist acts was a neighbor.

They said they did not know about the other loops and Starbucks phone calls at the time.

“People who do this are very insecure and scared,” Ms Simon told The Free Press. “And when they get so loud, it shows how great their fear is.”

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