Advance Notice: Briefs

Michigan man accused of threatening BLM supporters at Starbucks, leaving nooses for protesters

By: - May 2, 2022 10:53 am

Black Lives Matter flag in Lansing | Susan J. Demas

A retired optometrist from Saginaw was charged with hate crimes for allegedly intimidating Black Lives Matter protesters and threatening to lynch a Black person, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Kenneth D. Pilon, 61, is accused of calling nine Starbucks stores in Michigan in 2020 and telling employees to tell their co-workers wearing Black Lives Matter shirts that “the only good [N-word] is a dead [N-word].” He also told an employee that he’s “gonna go out and lynch me a [N-word],” according to prosecutors.

Pilon is also accused of leaving four nooses in parking lots and a fifth in a 7-Eleven store in the summer of 2020. Each noose was attached to a note that read, “An accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ T-shirt. Happy protesting!”

Pilon has been charged with hate crime charges for “willfully intimidating and attempting to intimidate citizens from engaging in lawful speech and protests in support of Black Lives Matter,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan said.

“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 complaint states.

The FBI is investigating the case.

Black Lives Matter protests broke out in the summer of 2020 following the death of George Floyd.

This story first ran in the Detroit Metro Times. Subscribe to their newsletters, and follow them on Google News, Apple News, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, or TikTok.

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Steve Neavling
Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist with the Detroit Metro Times. He operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker, Neavling was a five-year veteran of the Detroit Free Press, covering Detroit’s city hall.