News & Opinion

5 Things to Know: Concord Man Arrested for Hate Crimes

...and four more stories from June 18-24, 2023

Surveillance footage depicts the suspect who now faces hate crime charges during an incident in which he allegedly blocked a Black resident of Concord into a parking lot after following him through traffic. His truck, decked out in Trump and Confederate gear, can be seen in the top right of the photo.
Surveillance footage depicts the suspect who now faces hate crime charges during an incident in which he allegedly blocked a Black resident of Concord into a parking lot after following him through traffic. His truck, decked out in Trump and Confederate gear, can be seen in the top right of the photo. (Photo courtesy of FBI)

Concord Man Arrested for Hate Crimes

FBI agents arrested a Concord man this week and charged him with two hate crimes related to intimidating his Mexican neighbors and Black residents on the roads and in parking lots around the Charlotte suburb. The arrest came after an investigation that spanned back to 2021 after an incident that occurred in October 2022.

According to a criminal complaint filed on Thursday, Marian Hudak regularly harassed and threatened a Mexican family that lived next to him in Concord, beginning in November 2021. This harassment at least once broke down into a physical confrontation between the neighbors in which guns were pulled. Hudak later put his neighbors’ names and addresses on his truck — which he was known to drive around Concord flying Donald Trump and Confederate flags — under a label that read “illegals, drug abusers, alcoholics and racist.”

Hudak also regularly harassed and threatened women in the family, including a 9- and 13-year-old girl.

In October 2022, a Black couple who lives in Concord called police after Hudak allegedly began threatening the man in traffic on Concord Parkway South, calling him “n***er” and threatening to kill him. Hudak then followed the man home to his apartment complex, where he tried to box him in with the help of some unidentified black SUV (pictured).

The victim called his girlfriend down and asked her to bring his assault rifle and call the police, as Hudak had already been flashing a gun at him. Once the woman came down, Hudak allegedly pulled the gun on both of them and threatened to kill them. Once he heard sirens, Hudak apparently left the complex. He was soon thereafter pulled over, arrested and charged with assault by pointing a weapon and communicating threats.

According to the complaint, Concord Police Department did not find Hudak’s gun during their “limited sweep” of his truck, and therefore did not seize it. He was released that day on a written promise to appear in court.

The October 2022 incident is what sparked the FBI investigation, which later uncovered an array of racial intimidation incidents including Hudak’s harassment of his neighbors and his habit of parking in public lots and using a megaphone he had attached to his car to amplify racial hate speech. He had previously been banned from a Sam’s Club parking lot in Concord for such behavior.

According to the complaint, Hudak admitted to law enforcement officers in December 2022 following a disorderly conduct arrest that he had begun yelling “Fuck you, n***ers” to any Black people he saw while in traffic due to some perceived threat he felt from a Black person at a gas station in the past.

GOP Continues to Push Anti-Trans Legislation Through NCGA

As this legislative session and Pride Month celebrations come to a close, state lawmakers are making a final push to pass legislation affecting transgender youth, as reported by Rachel Crumpler and Lucas Thomae with our news partners at NC Health News.

This week, multiple bills addressing the status of transgender youth are moving in the legislature, some of them similar, some of them receiving legislative attention at the same time.

The first, Senate Bill 631, makes it unlawful for a public health care facility to provide gender-affirming care to minors, including gender transition surgery, puberty-blocking drugs or cross-sex hormones. The bill also restricts the use of state funds for gender-transition procedures.

The NC House passed SB 631 on Wednesday and it will have to return to the NC Senate for another vote before heading to the governor’s desk.

House Bill 808 prohibits all medical professionals from providing gender-affirming care to minors with some exceptions. This includes performing gender-transition procedures and providing puberty-blocking drugs and cross-sex hormones, and no state funds can be used. That bill has passed through the House and is in Senate committees.

House Bill 574 restricts transgender females from playing on women’s sports teams at the middle school, high school or college levels. That bill has passed both House and Senate but has returned to House for concurrence. Read NC Health News for in-depth coverage on the heartfelt testimony given this week against these bills.

JCSU Names Second Woman President in University’s Storied History

Johnson C. Smith University’s Board of Trustees announced Wednesday the selection of Dr. Valerie Kinloch as the university’s 15th president, effective Aug. 1.

According to the university’s website, “Kinloch is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University (‘96) and a member of its Board of Trustees, giving her deep insight into the strengths and challenges of the 156-year-old college, founded to serve formerly enslaved Black people and now educating more than 1,100 students annually with 22 degree programs, including a Master’s in social work.”

New Johnson C. Smith University President Dr. Valerie Kinloch. (Photo courtesy of JCSU)

Kinloch currently serves as Dean of the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh, where she oversees 300 full- and part-time faculty and staff, and nearly 1,000 students. Previously, she held positions as associate dean and professor at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, and as a faculty member at Teachers College-Columbia University in New York City and at the University of Houston-Downtown.

“It’s a dream come true to be invited to lead one of the finest Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America — and at the same time come home,” Kinloch said in a release. “My years at JCSU were some of the best of my life. This university set me on course to grow beyond anything I could imagine, so it is incredibly gratifying to return and give back to the institution that helped make me who I am.”

County Forms Street Team to Serve Unsheltered Neighbors

Mecklenburg County Community Support Services (CSS) announced this week that it is building a street outreach program that engages and supports people living on the street throughout the county.

With funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the county has partnered with Hearts for the Invisible CLT to lead the street outreach effort. Hearts for the Invisible CLT will organize resources and develop a plan to coordinate resources and organizations in each area of the county, according to a release. It will expand outreach by creating a multidisciplinary team to engage with residents experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

Two people in jackets communicate with a person lying in a sleeping bag on a sidewalk under a bridge.
Volunteers with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Housing and Homelessness Strategy Initiative bring resources to residents struggling with homelessness on Charlotte’s streets. (Photo by Peter Safir)

During the 2023 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Point-in-Time count on Jan. 26, 288 people were identified as experiencing unsheltered homelessness on that night. It was the first time that volunteers canvassed the entire geographic area of Mecklenburg County, including the six towns, to locate, engage, and survey individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness.

“People who live without shelter are likely to have higher vulnerabilities and housing barriers than people living in shelters,” said Karen Pelletier, director of the CSS Housing Innovation and Stabilization Services division. “But they aren’t connected to the resources that shelters provide. They tend to be disconnected and lack the system navigation they need in finding their way to help.”

The street outreach team will engage directly with people experiencing unsheltered homelessness and connect them with the support they need to transition off the streets and towards long-term stability. The Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners allocated $650,000 from dollars received through the ARPA in 2021 for this purpose.

Pedestrian Killed by Driver in SouthPark

In a week that saw the publication of a new report revealing disturbing numbers regarding pedestrian traffic-related deaths around the country, Charlotte saw its eighth death of a pedestrian by vehicle this week.

Just after 10 p.m. on Thursday, first responders were called to a motor vehicle crash involving a pedestrian on Fairview Road near SouthPark Mall, where they located 47-year-old Gregory Wall lying in the roadway and a white 2014 Chevrolet Silverado with front right-end damage. Medic pronounced Wall dead at the scene.

A preliminary investigation indicated that Wall was crossing Fairview Road in a dark, dimly lit area and not in a crosswalk. He stepped into the path of the Chevrolet, which struck him and threw him several feet forward. The driver of the Chevrolet was found to not be impaired at the time of the crash. No charges have been filed in the incident.

Twenty-one pedestrians were killed in traffic-related incidents in Charlotte in 2022. At this point last year, there had been 11 pedestrian deaths, as compared to eight thus far in 2023.

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