The Justice Department on Wednesday announced it has brought hate crime charges against a Michigan man accused of intimidating residents in his neighborhood by leaving nooses and racist notes in an attempt to stop Black Lives Matter support.
According to NBC News, the suspect, identified as 61-year-old Kenneth Pilon, faces six counts of interfering with federally protected activities for incidents in June and July 2020. The period in question saw an upsurge in nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd.
In an affidavit, authorities claim Pilon left several nooses and handwritten notes at stores in Saginaw. The notes read: “An accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ t-shirt. Happy protesting!”
Pilon is also accused of targeting a Black man and his family after he supposedly saw the man’s then-wife wearing a Black Lives Matter shirt at their home. The accused man allegedly left a noose as well as a note on a car belonging to the former couple. They were identified as Donald and Regina Simon.
“When he got into his truck, he noticed in the side of the door was this noose with a note attached to it,” Regina Simon recalled. “At first I’m thinking it’s a joke, somebody trying to be funny, but then I’m like this isn’t funny.”
Donald Simon said he was left feeling “violated.” “I can’t understand that this racism is still alive,” he added.
After Regina shared a photo of the noose and racist note on Facebook, the NAACP got in touch with her and alerted the FBI.
Pilon is also accused of calling multiple Starbucks stores in Michigan and telling employees who answered the calls to pass on racist messages he had for their colleagues who wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts.
“Tell the Starbucks workers wearing BLM shirts that the only good n-word is a dead n-word,” he allegedly said in the calls, NBC News reported. Pilon also told another employee that he disliked Black Lives Matter shirts, adding that he was “gonna go out and lynch me a n-word.”
Authorities allege Pilon’s motive was to intimidate people “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.”