White Man Admits To Beating Detroit Teen With Bike Lock Because He Was Black, Pleads Guilty To Federal Hate Crime
Mouat told the group of Black people that they had no right to use the public beach.
October 14, 2020 at 1:14 pm
Update (March 31, 2021): A 43-year-old white man who attacked a Black teenager in Michigan last year, striking him in the face with a chain bike lock, has now pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime. Lee Mouat entered the plea deal on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court in Detroit, admitting that he attacked 18-year-old Devin Freelon Jr. because of his race, USA TODAY reported.
The attacker said he repeatedly hurled racial slurs at Freelon and his friends, who were listening to music in the parking lot of a waterfront park in Monroe County. Mouat admitted to telling the group that Black people have no right to use the public beach. He also confessed to knocking out Freelon’s teeth while hitting him in the face with the lock.
Michigan man pleads guilty to smashing teen's face with bike lock because he was Black: Lee Mouat, 43, of Newport, Michigan faces 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to beating a Black teen because of his race. https://t.co/7feHJ4rtdF
— CITIZENS for CHANGE™ ???? (@cfcpac) March 31, 2021
“The young victim in this case suffered tremendously from this vicious, racially motivated attack," Saima Mohsin, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, said. "Every individual citizen has the right to not live in fear of violence or attack based on the color of their skin.”
The perpetrator also said that he tried to strike another Black teen with the bike lock, but missed.
“Hate-fueled incidents like this one have no place in a civilized society,” Pamela Karlan, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, said in a statement Tuesday.
Mouat, who is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
“Mouat’s hateful and violent conduct, motivated by racial intolerance, was intended to physically harm the victim as well as create fear within the African-American community,” Detroit's FBI chief Timothy Waters, said. “We encourage anyone who has been the victim of or witness to such a crime to report it to the FBI.”
Original (October 14, 2020): A white man in Michigan allegedly launched a verbal attack against a group of Black teenagers before striking one of them in the face with a chain bike lock.
According to The Washington Post, the incident happened when Devin Freelon Jr. and his two friends were listening to music in the parking lot of a waterfront park in Monroe County, Mich.
Lee James Mouat was allegedly annoyed by the volume of the music when he walked towards the teenagers in the parking lot on June 6 and yelled at them, saying “n****rs don’t belong on this beach” and "Black lives don't matter."
The 42-year-old then grabbed a bike lock and struck Freelon in the face, knocking out several of his teeth and breaking his jaw, witnesses said.
Federal prosecutors charged Mouat with a hate crime, accusing him of “willfully causing bodily injury to an African-American teenager because of the teenager’s race.”
"While D.F. retrieved a portable speaker from a vehicle, Mouat yelled racial slurs at D.F.'s two friends, who were also African American teenagers," prosecutors said in the complaint filed on Tuesday. "As D.F. walked over to his friends with the portable speaker, he noticed Mouat walking quickly towards him. Mouat swung an object, which struck D.F. in the face."
Freelon was taken to the hospital and treated for a facial fracture, facial lacerations and the loss of his teeth. Deputies quickly arrived at the scene and gathered information from several witnesses. The testimonies of four witnesses were included in the complaint.
One witness said Mouat was complaining about loud music, saying "these n****rs are playing gang music" and "I want to hit them with this cooler." The witness said the 42-year-old called the teenagers "n****rs" and "monsters" and said "I wish someone would say something to me so I can beat them."
Another person said Mouat continued to make threats, saying "I'll bash their heads in if they don't turn [their music] down." When he later walked towards the teenagers in the parking lot, the white man allegedly yelled "n****rs" repeatedly. After the teenagers yelled back, Mouat went back to his car to get the chain bike-lock which he used to attack the 18-year-old, the witness said.
A third person said the attacker yelled "Black lives don't matter" at the teens. The fourth witness said he heard the perpetrator saying "this is my beach, n****r." One of the teenagers responded, according to the witness, saying "we'll kick your ass."
"There are three of you. That's not fair," Mouat allegedly replied.
After the teenager said "I'll kick your ass alone," the white man walked away, saying "I've got something for you in my car," the testimony stated.
It was then that he attacked him with the bike lock.
Freelon’s cousin, Kiara Phillips, said the incident happened days before the teenager graduated from high school.
“This year has already taken a lot from him as a senior and as an African American, with the tension going on in America currently. It’s a shame the hate in this world has taken another thing from him,” Phillips said.
A series of hate crimes has ensued during the recent months of social unrest, sparked by the ongoing cases of police brutality. Last month, a man in Colorado was charged for stabbing a Black man who was sitting in a fast food restaurant while waiting to provide a job application to a manager.
According to the complaint, Nolan Levi Strauss, 26, approached the Black man from behind and stabbed him in the neck.
"Following a struggle for the knife, the man freed himself and Strauss was detained by store employees," the complaint stated. "When asked by the store employee why he attacked the man, Strauss stated he did so because the man “was Black, and I don’t like Black people.”
A woman in Queens also faced charges last month after throwing a glass bottle at a Black woman who was jogging and yelling “go back to Africa”, as Blavity previously reported.