A Man Was Charged With Hate Crimes For Allegedly Threatening Starbucks Employees Wearing BLM Shirts

The retired optometrist from Saginaw, Michigan, allegedly made racist and threatening calls to nine Starbucks stores and left nooses around town.

A Michigan man was charged in federal court on Tuesday after he allegedly made a series of racist phone calls to Starbucks stores to threaten employees wearing "Black Lives Matter" T-shirts.

Kenneth Pilon, a 61-year-old retired optometrist, is facing six counts of willfully intimidating and attempting to intimidate people from engaging in lawful speech and protests. Each misdemeanor charge carries a fine and the potential of up to a year in prison.

In June 2020, Pilon allegedly called nine Starbucks stores two days after the coffee company announced they would make 250,000 BLM shirts available to their US and Canada employees and also allow employees to wear their own BLM shirts and pins. The move was made in response to the widespread racial justice protests triggered by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

According to a criminal complaint, he called all of the Michigan Starbucks stores in just over one hour and told those who answered the phone to tell staffers wearing a BLM shirt that "the only good nigger is a dead nigger."

"I'm going to go out and lynch me a nigger," he allegedly told one employee.

Over the next month, he also allegedly left nooses in the parking lots of a Goodwill, Walmart, and Kroger grocery store, as well as inside a cooler at a 7-Eleven and in the vehicle of a mixed-race couple.

Each noose was accompanied by handwritten notes that described the ropes as "an accessory to be worn with your 'BLM' t-shirt. Happy protesting!"

No attorney was listed for Pilon in court records.

A voicemail message left on a telephone number associated with Pilon in public records was not immediately returned.

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