On Tuesday, a Lynnwood, Washington man was sentenced to two years in prison for making interstate threats toward Black people and for a hate crime.
According to the Department Of Justice, Joey David George (37) made threatening telephone calls from his home in Lynnwood to grocery stores in Buffalo, New York, restaurants in California and Connecticut, and a marijuana dispensary in Maryland.
“In today’s day and age, words are the weapons in the arsenal of the bully, the bigot, the racist, and the homophobe,” U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said during the sentencing hearing. “These words seep into the psyche of the victims and cause incredible pain that might never go away.”
George has been in federal custody since his arrest on July 22, 2022.
Court records show George telephoned multiple grocery stores in Buffalo, New York, and threatened to shoot Black people in the stores. George told the staff at the store to “take him seriously,” and ordered the store to clear out the customers, as he was “nearby” and “preparing to shoot all Black customers.” His threats came just months after Payton Gendron went on a racist rampage killing 10 Black people at a supermarket in Buffalo.
In addition to the calls to Buffalo, George admits that in May, he called a restaurant in San Bruno, California allegedly threatening to shoot Black and Hispanic patrons in the restaurant. His goal was to strike fear in the Bay Area Black community.
George’s reign of terror didn’t begin there. On Sept. 11, 2021, George called a cannabis dispensary in Rockville, Maryland, and used racial slurs as he threatened to shoot and kill Black people at the business. The dispensary shut down and hired extra security, causing a loss of over $50,000. On the same day, George called a Denny’s restaurant in Enfield, Connecticut, and threatened Black patrons there as well.
“While Mr. George suffers from some mental health impairments, his conduct in this case was deliberate and motivated by racial hatred,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “He wanted people to feel the terror that they would be targeted because of the color of their skin. Mr. George used the tragedy of the Buffalo grocery store shooting to make his threats even more searing. We take these matters very seriously.”
According to DOJ, George has agreed to pay $13,088 in restitution to the impacted businesses. He will also be on three years of supervised release when he finishes his prison sentence.
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