Two Plead Guilty To Spraying Blacks With Kool-Aid
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two men pleaded guilty Friday to spraying more than 50 black people with Kool-Aid from a high-pressure fire extinguisher as they drove around St. Louis at night, the Justice Department announced.
David Walden, 30, of Ellisville, Mo., and Shawn Daniels, 39 of Fenton, Mo., both white, pleaded guilty to federal criminal civil rights violations in U.S. District Court in St. Louis, the department said.
Walden, a sales manager, and Daniels, a self-employed small business owner, face maximum sentences of one year in prison and fines of up to $100,000 each. U.S. Magistrate Judge Frederick Buckles set sentencing for May 5.
The September 1991 incident was videotaped by Deanna Powers, who was then married to one of the men and rode along. The videotape shows the spray from the modified fire extinguisher knocking some victims to the ground. The videotape soundtrack recorded the men referring to their victims as ``niggers″ and laughing.
The government said the two men engaged in similar activities in predominantly black areas of St. Louis in October 1991 and on Jan. 20, 1992, the holiday celebrating the birthday of civil rights leader Martin Luther King.
``Incidents like these remind us all that intolerance is still alive in our great nation,″ said Assistant Attorney General Deval L. Patrick. ``We must never let acts of bigotry go unchallenged.″
``Some say discrimination is behind us, but the number of hate crime complaints we receive tell us it isn’t,″ Patrick added. The Justice Department opens about 450 hate-crime investigations each year.
After the incidents became known to the U.S. attorney’s office in August 1993, Walden’s family gave the media the videotape. As a result, Powers, Walden’s ex-wife, resigned from her job as a physical education teacher in the Lindburgh School District in the St. Louis suburbs.
Federal criminal civil rights law makes it a crime to use force or threats to injure or intimidate an individual because of their race or color and their participation in a federally protected activity. Use of transportation facilities is considered such a protected activity, and several victims were sitting at bus stops when they were attacked.