DETROIT (AP) — A man from Saginaw pleaded guilty to hate crimes for intimidating and attempting to intimidate people who were speaking out and protesting in support of Black Lives Matter, prosecutors said Tuesday.
Kenneth Pilon, 61, entered the plea to two hate crime charges in federal district court, the Justice Department said. Pilon is due to be sentenced on March 23, 2023.
Pilon was accused of calling nine Starbucks stores in Michigan and telling the employees answering his calls to relay racial threats to Starbucks employees wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts. Pilon also threatened to kill Black people, prosecutors said.
Pilon also pleaded guilty to placing a noose inside a vehicle with an attached note reading: “An accessory to be worn with your ‘BLM’ t-shirt. Happy protesting!”
Pilon allegedly left the messages two days after Starbucks announced in 2020 that it would provide 250,000 Black Lives Matter T-shirts to employees who wanted to wear them during their shifts amid protests condemning the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
“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,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release.