Updated as of 5/26/2023 at 12:00 p.m. ET
A 62-year-old Michigan man was sentenced to two federal hate crimes in the intimidation of Black Lives Matter supporters, according to The New York Times. Court documents reveal his offenses included hanging nooses around the parking lot and attaching racist notes.
Kenneth Pilon, a retired optometrist, previously pleaded guilty to two counts of willfully intimidating and attempting to intimidate citizens from engaging in lawful speech and protests. That “lawful speech and protest” was literally just a couple of Starbucks employees wearing their BLM t-shirts at the counter.
Pilon embarked on a rampage in response to their activism apparel, calling stores in several locations multiple times, threatening employees while using racial slurs, according to authorities.
“The only good n—-er is a dead n—-er,” he said.
He even threatened to lynch a Black person. On that note, he also left five nooses in several parking lots with letters attached reading, “An accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ t-shirt. Happy protesting!” One noose was hung inside someone’s vehicle.
His defense attorney argued his actions were a result of physical pain, social isolation and mental illness which somehow manifested into terrorizing people.
By avoiding four other charges relating to other but similar situations, he managed to land a sentence of 10 months in prison and one year supervision. Should he have gotten more time? Michigan state law says a hate crime or “ethnic intimidation” is a felony punishment worthy of up to two years in prison or a fine of $5,000.
However, the terror he inflicted upon this community was boiled down to a misdemeanor.
Many businesses suffered severe backlash after outwardly showing support for the movement against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd. The very words “Black lives matter” unleashed a sort of unhinged white rage which evidently awakened inside Mr. Pilon of Saginaw, Michigan. Reports say Pilon was accused of calling up nine Starbucks stores, and harassing employees with racial threats after seeing an announcement allowing them to don BLM t-shirts behind the counter.
If he was that upset, he could have just tried going to Dunkin’ Donuts. Now he’s traded his morning cup for a prison sentence.
Read more from the Department of Justice:
“The defendant levied racially-motivated death threats against multiple Black people wearing Black Lives Matter t-shirts,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The defendant also used a noose, a vile symbol of hatred and violence that harkens back to the Jim Crow era, to convey a threat of racial violence. Racially-driven threats of violence simply have no place in our society today, and the Department of Justice will continue to prosecute any individual who engages in this type of threatening conduct.”
Is it me or have these hate-crime perpetrators been extra honest about their actions? Logically, the intention behind their extravagant racial taunts would be hard to disprove in court—especially an explicit threat to kill Black people. But lately a number of suspects—particularly white people accused of attacking Black people—have wasted no time admitting to what they did and why.
After Ahmaud Arbery’s killers received hate crime sentences, it seems everybody else gave up trying to prove their innocence.
The FBI recently released the statistics report on hate crimes in 2021. Sixty-four percent of the crimes were motivated by racism and 56 percent of the known offenders were white. Remember, these are only the ones that have been reported, documented and investigated. There are likely even more proudly proclaimed racists walking among us.