A West Allis, Wisconsin, man may spend more than a decade behind bars after admitting to federal charges of violating his neighbors’ civil rights.
The man was apparently furious at a Black woman because she moved into his community and threatened to slash her throat if she and her family did not pack up and move.
The Department of Justice reported on March 23 that William McDonald, 45, has pleaded guilty to “one felony count and one misdemeanor count of intimidating and interfering with Black residents because of their race and because they were exercising their right to fair housing.”
McDonald was charged with committing these crimes against multiple Black and brown families he did not want living near him. For these federal crimes, he faces up to 11 years in prison.
His admission comes a little more than two years after he slashed an African-American woman’s tires and cracked the windshield of her vehicle while it was parked outside of her apartment.
In addition to damaging her car, he threatened her by leaving a note on the top of the vehicle saying he would slash her throat if she did not move from their neighborhood — lacing the letter with racial epithets and derogatory words.
“BETTER WATCH WHO THE F##K YOU TALK S##T TO UFLY FAT N##GER B##TCH! I KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE. IF I SEE YOU AGAIN, I’LL SLASH YOUR F##KING THROAT. GET THE F##K BACK TO THE NORTHSIDE WHERE YOU BELONG F##KING N##GER!” the letter read.
The harassment continued 10 days later when McDonald slashed two of the woman’s front tires and wrote yet another threatening letter. This story stated it was her “last warning.”
“Get the f##k outta my neighborhood,” he wrote. “Before I slash you s##t again.”
The man also went on to say he doesn’t have problems with all Black people, “Only problems with ghetto punk N##GERS like you!”
Another Black woman with her two young sons also moved into the apartment complex. Three days after they moved in, she also found her door had the N-word graffitied across the front in black ink and discovered two notes slipped under her apartment’s door.
“Stay here and see what the (expletive) happens, (N-word),” one of the notes read.
McDonald pleaded guilty to committing these crimes as well.
“No one should feel unsafe in their home or be subjected to harmful and derogatory threats because of the color of their skin,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.
U.S. Attorney Gregory J. Haanstad for the Eastern District of Wisconsin stated “The conduct at issue in this case strikes at the very core of the civil rights guaranteed to every American citizen under federal law.”
“I commend the courage of those targeted by Mr. McDonald for coming forward. The U.S. Attorney’s Office remains committed to working with all of our federal, state, and local partners to hold individuals who violate the civil rights of others fully accountable under federal law.”
After the federal lawsuit was announced in 2022, the FBI said it was in possession of videos that showed McDonald in the vicinity of each place those handwritten notes were left. The agency also proved the stationery that the notes were written on was from the restaurant where the man worked.
The FBI Milwaukee Field Office and the West Allis Police Department worked together for the arrest. Local police made the positive match after having him write something down for them during a traffic stop in March 2022. West Allis police turned over the script to the FBI, who ran an analysis of his penmanship and it matched the handwriting in the racist notes.
After McDonald’s terror spree made the news, other victims came forward on social media and revealed the many racist acts used to push them out of the predominantly white community.
The uproar prompted the city’s mayor, Dan Devine, to shift the narrative regarding West Allis.
“This does not represent West Allis or what West Allis stands for. … We have worked hard towards becoming a more welcoming and inclusive community to all,” he said.
“I feel like we have made some progress, but then a story like this arises and reinforces that we still have work to do. This ignorant, hateful rhetoric has absolutely no place in our city or anywhere else.”
McDonald will be sentenced, according to the DOJ, on June 29.