A Michigan man has been sentenced to five years in prison for smashing a Black teenager’s face with a bike chain at a beach. He also allegedly told him “Black Lives Don’t Matter,” before striking him, knocking several teeth out..
According to the Detroit Free Press, 43-year-old Lee Mouat pleaded guilty to a hate crime for willfully causing bodily injury to an 18-year-old because of his race.
On March 30, Mouat admitted in federal court to pummeling the teen after pleading guilty to the racist crime before U.S. District Judge Stephen J. Murphy, III.
The June 6, 2020 incident happened at Sterling State Park near Monroe, Mich., where Mouat confronted a group of Black teens, including 18-year-old Devin Freelon Jr. Court records reveal that before Mouat pulled out the weapon, he told Freelon that Blacks were not welcome at the beach and that Black lives don’t matter.
Court records and police statements show that around 7:45 p.m. Freelon heard a man yelling a racial slur at two of his friends in the beach parking lot. Then, Mouat started walking toward Freelon, pulled out a bike lock, and struck him in the face with it.
According to the Free Press, one witness said they heard Mouat say, "I wish someone would say something to me so I can beat them."
In his plea agreement, Mouat admitted that he repeatedly hurled racial slurs at the group while claiming that Black people had no right to use the public beach. He also admitted to attempting to assault another Black teen with the lock, but missing.
“The defendant brutally attacked teenagers at a public beach because these young people are Black,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, according to the Free Press. “Hate-fueled violent crimes like this have no place in our communities. Protecting Americans from hate crimes is a top priority of the Justice Department and we will use every tool available to bring perpetrators to justice.”
“Our office is committed to protecting the rights of all citizens, and prosecuting hate crimes is a top priority,” Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin for the Eastern District of Michigan added. “The cowardly and unprovoked attack on this young victim is terribly disturbing. Every individual citizen has the right to not live in fear of violence or attack based on the color of their skin.”
In addition to prison time, Judge Stephen Murphy ordered Mouat to serve three years of supervised release.