A man has been charged with hate crimes after he was found with nooses and racist notes.
Federal prosecutors say Kenneth Pilon, 61, tried to scare away Black Lives Matter supporters with threats in the summer of 2020.
U.S. Justice Department says a Michigan man accused of leaving nooses and threatening notes in his neighborhood and making racist threats in phone calls has been charged with hate crimes.
Six charges have been filed against 61-year-old Kenneth Pilon, who is accused of interfering with federally protected activities. Racist notes found in Saginaw and racist calls to Starbucks stores in the summer of 2020 led to the charges.
People who wore Black Lives Matter T-shirts were the target of threats made by prosecutors. The racial justice movement saw a surge in support after George Floyd was killed by a police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
Mr. Pilon's lawyer didn't answer calls for comment right away on Saturday.
He left five nooses with handwritten notes that said: "An accessory to match your 'BLM' T-shirt." Between late June and mid-July 2020, the nooses were left. "Have a happy protest!" prosecutors say they were left in parking lots, inside a car, and in a beverage cooler inside a 7-Eleven. This is what they said.
He called nine Starbucks stores in Michigan on June 14, 2020, a week before the nooses came out, court documents say. The calls were all racist.
Black Lives Matter T-shirts will be sent to Starbucks stores two days after the company said it wouldn't allow workers to wear clothing with the phrase because it could "amplify divisiveness."
All the time, Mr. Pilon used a racist word when he called Starbucks in Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw. It happened in seven of the calls, prosecutors say. Either he told the person who answered the phone to make a racist comment to workers wearing Black Lives Matter shirts, or he told the person who answered the phone to say something bad about them.
A Saginaw woman told the Detroit Free Press that in 2020 she and her husband found two nooses. They thought they were being followed.
In July 2020, Ms. Simon said that the couple was outside with their puppy and wearing Black Lives Matter shirts on a Saturday morning. He found a noose and a note that said they were going to kill him the next day in their car, which had been parked in their driveway with the window open for the night.
Some time in the next five days, the couple found another noose and note in the parking lot of Walmart, next to a cart corral. They held a Black Lives Matter rally at their house because they thought the person who did the racist things was a neighbor.
They said that they didn't know about the other nooses and Starbucks phone calls when they were at the scene.
When Simon told the Free Press that people who do this are very insecure and afraid, she said: "And when they get so loud, that shows how much they are afraid."