After striking a Black adolescent in the face with a bike lock because of his race, a Michigan man was sentenced to five years in prison on Thursday.
Lee Mouat, 43, was sentenced to 60 months in prison and three years of supervised release after pleading guilty to charges stemming from a confrontation with a group of Black teenagers in Sterling State Park in Monroe, Michigan, last year when he struck 18-year-old Devin Freelon Jr. in the head with a bike lock and attempted to strike a second teen. During the incident, Mouat informed Freelon, “Black lives don’t count.” Mouat agreed to wilfully causing bodily injury to the teen when he pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime in March.
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said, “The defendant violently beat teenagers at a public beach because these young people are Black.” “Violent crimes motivated by hatred have no place in our community. The Justice Department’s highest responsibility is to protect Americans from hate crimes, and we will use every tool at our disposal to bring criminals to justice.”
Freelon was in the park around 7:45 p.m. on June 6, 2020, when he heard someone cry from the beach parking lot, “N—ers don’t belong on this beach!”
According to witnesses, Mouat became enraged because Freelon and his buddies were playing music on the beach and began shouting racial remarks about them. At the time, Freelon was getting a speaker from a car.
“I wish someone would say anything to me so I can beat them,” Mouat said to a passerby. A witness heard Mouat yell, “This is my beach, n—–!” when a commotion erupted a few minutes later.
Mouat moved away from the fight, then returned with the bike lock, swinging it at Freelon and another adolescent. Freelon suffered lacerations to his face and mouth, a cracked jaw, and the loss of many teeth as a result of the attack.
Mouat agreed to striking one adolescent with the lock and attempting to strike another, as well as hurling racial comments at the group, in a plea agreement.
“Our office is committed to preserving the rights of all individuals, and prosecuting hate crimes is a major priority,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Saima Mohsin for the Eastern District of Michigan. The unjustified and vicious attack on this little victim is deeply troubling.
Every citizen has the right to live without fear of violence or attack because of their skin color.”
After hearing about Freelon’s struggle, a dentist in Wyandotte, Michigan, offered him $15,000 in free dental repair so he could celebrate his forthcoming graduation with a full smile.
“Right now, I’m simply happy.” Freelon told Fox 2 last year, “Oh my God, I can’t stop smiling.”
Mouat might have faced a ten-year prison sentence.