A White Kansas man, who threatened a Black man with a knife and told him he was in a “white town”, pleaded guilty to a racially motivated federal hate crime charge in connection with the confrontation, the Department of Justice announced in a statement last Thursday.
According to The Topeka Capital-Journal, the incident happened in the city of Paola on September 11, 2019. The Department of Justice said 27-year-old Colton Donner admitted to threatening the Black man with a knife because of his race and also confronting him with the intention of intimidating and interfering with his right to fair housing.
Per the statement, Donner confronted the Black victim after he spotted him walking on a sidewalk in a neighborhood. The accused, who was driving at the time, allegedly got out of the car and walked towards the Black man while brandishing a knife. Donner also hurled racial slurs at the victim and told him Paola was a “white town.”
“Using racially motivated threats of violence to drive someone out of their home or community is a deplorable crime, and the Justice Department stands ready to use our nation’s hate crimes laws to hold perpetrators accountable,” Assistant Attorney General for the Department’s Civil Rights Division, Kristen Clarke, said. “Racially motivated hate crimes have no place in our society today. All people deserve to feel safe and secure living in their communities, regardless of race, color or national origin.”
The Department of Justice said Donner faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the civil rights offense. “Any attempt to deny someone an opportunity to live where he or she chooses based on race, color or national origin is wrong and a violation of that person’s civil rights,” U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas, Duston Slinkard, said. “It is the responsibility of the Justice Department to prosecute such offenses to ensure the equal protection under the law to which we all are entitled, and we take that responsibility very seriously.”
“Every individual has the right to occupy a home free from racial discrimination, yet the defendant targeted the victim for no other reason than the victim’s race,” Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Kansas City Field Office, Charles Dayoub, added.
“The defendant’s actions directly undermined the victim’s right to reside in a community in Paola, Kansas, and to enjoy the protections afforded under the federal civil rights act. The FBI, along with our law enforcement partners, have no tolerance for this type of fear and intimidation and are committed to protecting residents regardless of their race, color, religion, gender, national origin or familial status.”