A white man in Michigan is charged with a federal hate crime after an alleged assault against a Black teenager in a state park in June, the Justice Department announced.
According to a federal affidavit, Lee James Mouat, 42, came across a group of Black youths at Sterling State Park in Monroe, Mich., on June 6. Witnesses say Mouat yelled racist slurs at the teens and made other threats during their encounter.
The affidavit says that Mouat was complaining about the teenagers playing loud music and began making the threats. One witness heard him say, "these n-----s are playing gang music," and "I wish someone would say something to me so I can beat them." Another witness reportedly heard him make a comment to the effect of, "I'll bash their heads in if they don't turn [their music] down."
A third witness said he heard Mouat yell, “Black lives don’t matter,” then grab a “chain-like” object from his minivan and swing it at one of the teens, striking him in the face. The victim was identified as Devin Frelon, 18, whose jaw was fractured and lost several teeth.
An FBI investigation determined that Mouat “willfully caused bodily injury to [Frelon], who is African American, because of the actual or perceived race and color.”
“The allegations in this case, which essentially amount to violent and blatant racism, are deeply offensive to the values we hold in Michigan,” said Matthew Schneider, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, in a statement. “We will prosecute this case with strength and vigor, and we will do everything we can to seek justice for the innocent victim of this racist hate crime.”
The federal charge comes on top of state hate crime charges Mouat faces in Monroe County over the same accusation. At a hearing in June, a judge found him indigent and was assigned a court attorney, according to Michiganradio.org. A final pre-trial hearing in the case is scheduled for this month.