A Wisconsin resident has been charged with a hate crime after prosecutors alleged he cut his neighbors’ internet cable cords as he thought they were undocumented immigrants, NBC News reported on Friday.
On September 22nd, a worker came to install Internet in Shannon Pearson’s upstairs Eau Claire apartment. Pearson, 48, who admitted drinking alcohol earlier that day, told officers he was “upset because upstairs inmates were in the country illegally” and “shouldn’t be given cable.”
Pearson initially told the officer he informed the cable installer that his upstairs neighbors were in the country illegally and the plumber had “freaked out” and cut the cable before leaving. Pearson says he then went upstairs to confront his neighbors about their status, who he said did not speak English, and was pushed down the stairs by one of his neighbors.
The neighbors were interviewed using an interpreter, and were identified in the complaint as J.L. and M.A. They denied having any contact or altercation with Pearson.
The Internet installer, who returned to the upstairs apartment to fix the Internet during the interview, said that Pearson “had come outside and was saying racist things” during the installation and that he cut the cable.
According to the complaint, Pearson said when presented with the statement made by the cable installer said “I just don’t feel they deserve cable. I’m sorry, I’m not doing that. They are illegal aliens.”
Pearson then confessed cutting the cable with scissors and re-iterated that the believed his neighbors were in the country illegally as they couldn’t speak any English. Police, however, confirmed that the neighbors were in the country legally.
Pearson’s motivations for doing this weren’t completely clear, however he did express frustration that “Mexicans” were able to rent on a month-by-month basis.
Pearson was arrested and charged with criminal property damage along with the obstruction of an officer. The criminal damage charge was upgraded to a crime after it was established to be a hate crime.
Pearson was released from jail on a $1,000 bond. His bond conditions included him not making any contact with his neighbors. Pearson faces 2 years in prison along with a fine of $10,000 if convicted.
His next appearance in court will be on November 28th.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS
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