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'I wanted to make him miserable': Man arrested on federal charges for harassing Black neighbor

FBI agent shot and wounded in Brooklyn
Posted at 5:07 PM, Aug 06, 2020

LAWRENCE — A 50-year-old Lawrence man is facing federal charges after making racially-motivated threats towards his Black neighbor, according to federal authorities.

The man, Shepherd Hoehn, displayed a swastika on a fence and a sign of racial slurs with a machete near it facing his neighbor's property, placed and burned a cross facing his neighbors, and played the song "Dixie" on repeat, according to a press release from the Department of Justice.

"During the investigation, Hoehn acknowledged he was angry over a dispute with the neighbors and knew his actions would cause his neighbors to feel intimidated and be afraid," the release read.

When FBI agents asked Hoehn what he thought his neighbor was going to see when he saw the words and symbols, the man said he wanted to make his neighbor upset, according to a criminal complaint.

"I don’t care. I wanted to piss him off. I wanted to make him miserable," the complaint said Hoehn told FBI agents.

Hoehn was charged with one count of violating the fair housing act and two counts for unlawfully possessing firearms, according to the release.

“Although the First Amendment protects hateful, ignorant and morally repugnant beliefs and speech, it does not protect those who choose to take criminal actions based on those beliefs,” Southern District of Indiana attorney Josh Minkler said in the release. “This office will continue to prosecute federal hate crimes to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Lawrence Police Department assisted the FBI with this investigation.

“The FBI takes allegations of civil rights violations very seriously and will not tolerate harassment and intimidation directed at individuals because of their race, sexual identity or religious beliefs," FBI Indianapolis Special Agent in Charge Paul Keenan said in the release. “Such incidents represent not just an attack on an individual, but also on the victim’s community, and are intended to create fear. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to work to identify those committing these acts to ensure the rights of all Americans are protected.”

To learn how to report possible civil rights violations, you can visit the Civil Rights Reporting Portal online.