Daily Briefs

Man pleads guilty in attack on Black teen at Michigan beach

DETROIT (AP) — A white man has pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime after a Black teen was attacked in a southeastern Michigan park and hit in the face with a bicycle lock.

Lee Mouat, 43, entered the plea Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit and is scheduled to be sentenced June 24. He faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Last June, Mouat confronted a group of Black teens at Sterling State Park beach in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township, about 39 miles (62 kilometers) southwest of Detroit.

He repeatedly used racial slurs and said Black people had no right to use the beach before striking Devin Freelon Jr. and attempting to hit another teen, authorities said. Freelon lost several teeth and suffered a fractured jaw as well as cuts to his face and mouth.

“The young victim in this case suffered tremendously from this vicious, racially motivated assault,” said Saima Mohsin, acting U.S. Attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District. “Every individual citizen has the right to not live in fear of violence or attack based on the color of their skin.”

The assault happened after two groups of people — one white, the other Black — exchanged words at the beach. Mouat went to his car and retrieved the bike lock, authorities said, and the attack on Freelon sparked a brawl between the groups.

Mouat was charged in October in a federal criminal complaint and indicted  in February.

Detroit Division FBI Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters said the “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 gatherings under Open Meetings Act to go virtual

DETROIT (AP) — Local governmental gatherings in Detroit that fall under the Open Meetings Act must be held virtually under a public health order aimed at preventing the further spread of the COVID-19 virus.

The order was issued Tuesday by Detroit Chief Health Officer Denise Fair and declares a local state of emergency through May 31.

It follows an increase in COVID-19 cases and variants of the virus in the city and across Michigan.

Some meetings subject to the Open Meetings Act will find it difficult, if not impossible, to be open to the public without violating safety guidelines from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Fair said in a news release.

Wayne County, in which Detroit is the county seat, issued a similar order Monday.

“We recognize the importance of conducting open and transparent government meetings, but we need to do so in a manner that does not jeopardize the public’s health and safety,” Fair said.

She cited public bodies without facilities that allow for adequate physical distancing or those with open attendance in an in-person setting like the Detroit City Council and Board of Police Commissioners.

Virus cases in Detroit have risen from just over 300 for the period between Feb. 7-13 to more than 800 between March 14-20, according to the city.

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