Retired Michigan Optometrist Charged With Federal Hate Crimes, Leaving Nooses For Starbucks Employees

Retired Michigan Optometrist Charged With Federal Hate Crimes, Leaving Nooses For Starbucks Employees

Federal officials announced on Tuesday that a Michigan man had been charged with hate crimes for leaving menacing objects and committing racial intimidation against those participating in the Black Lives Matter movement.

The Detroit News reported that Kenneth Pilon, 61, a retired optometrist, was charged with six counts in federal court after allegedly calling nine Michigan Starbucks locations and intimidating employees wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts in June 2020.

According to the FBI, these charges indicate a guilty plea to committing civil rights acts crimes and violating federally protected activities. The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by one year’s incarceration and fines. According to The Hill, ” I’m going tona go out and lynch me a n—–,” Pilon told one Starbucks worker, the Justice Department noted in its release.

The FBI agent wrote Pilon “made these communications for the purpose of issuing a threat and with the knowledge that the communications would be viewed as a threat.”

“Specifically, Pilon intimidated and attempted to intimidate citizens 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,” the agent wrote in his affidavit.

The news outlet reported that the threatening calls came after Starbucks had announced its ambitious efforts to stand in solidarity with George Floyd, who died at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Amid worldwide protests against racism and police brutality, the coffee giant said they were making 250,000 shirts available to employees to wear during shifts.

Pilon also left four nooses in parking lots and one in a 7-Eleven store. Each noose had a message saying it was an “accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ t-shirt. Happy protesting!”

On July 12, 2020, an interracial Saginaw couple found a noose and racist note in their car. Apparently, Regina   Simon wore a BLM T-shirt at home the day before.