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September 11, 2014

Alabama Man Pleads Guilty to Threatening African-American Man and a Restaurant Manager

WASHINGTON—Jeremy Heath Higgins, 28, a resident of Quinton, Alabama, pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala to two counts of federal civil rights violations, announced the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Alabama.

As part of the plea proceedings, Higgins admitted that on June 14, 2013, he approached and threatened an African-American man at the Alabama Rose Steakhouse, a restaurant in Quinton, Alabama, because the man was present at the restaurant with a white woman. Soon after, the couple left the bar. A manager at the Alabama Rose Steakhouse confronted Higgins because of his behavior toward the African-American man and ordered Higgins to leave the restaurant. As Higgins was being escorted from the bar, he used racial slurs, shouted a racial slur at the restaurant manager, and threatened to burn down the Alabama Rose Steakhouse. Later that evening, Higgins returned to the restaurant and threatened the restaurant manager by painting graffiti on the restaurant’s front exterior and fence.

Sentencing in this case is set for January 9, 2015.

“Threatening an individual over their race or a business for its acceptance of others has no place in a civilized society,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division. “The Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute those who seek to intimidate others with these types of hateful threats.”

“Access to public places, like restaurants, has been at the core of the civil rights struggle,” said U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance for the Northern District of Alabama. “Unlike the lunch counters of the 1960s, the restaurant in this case welcomed and sought to protect the rights of its African American customer. In prosecuting this case, we make clear our commitment to enforcing the civil rights of individuals and the businesses who seek to serve all, without regard to the color of their skin.”

This case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robin B. Mark of the Northern District of Alabama and Trial Attorney David Reese of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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