Lake City man pleads to civil rights intimidation

Knoxville News Sentinel/March 13, 2012

Clinton -- A Lake City man earlier linked by authorities to a white supremacist group pleaded guilty Monday to civil-rights intimidation for breaking a black man's arm with a baseball bat.

But it remains unclear whether Ricky Lynn Hawkins' attacks on Michael Gipson were spurred by racism or rage over taunts about his female companion's romantic history — or both.

Regardless, Hawkins' two attacks on Gipson, 54, netted him jail time.

He received eight years for aggravated assault, five years for civil-rights intimidation and a year for an earlier assault on Gipson.

Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge ordered that the sentences run at the same time. Hawkins will be placed on supervised probation after serving 90 days in jail, court records indicate.

Hawkins, 34, who has a lengthy criminal record, also was ordered to take an anger management course and make restitution — $9,264 for Gipson's medical bills and $795 for Gipson's ambulance ride to the hospital.

Hawkins was charged with hitting Gipson and ripping his shirt in an July 2010 incident on Lake City's Main Street.

Then, in October 2010, a deputy saw Hawkins running toward Gipson on another Lake City street with a baseball bat and hitting him with it twice, in the upper body and left forearm.

As he was being arrested, Hawkins repeatedly yelled racial epithets at Gipson, according to reports.

Those records indicate Hawkins had identified himself as a lieutenant in the white supremacist group Aryan Nation. A warrant stated he has "numerous tattoos" associated with Aryan Nation.

Hawkins told the deputy he was mad at Gipson because Gipson had dated a white woman who was now dating him and had taunted him about it, according to reports.

After his plea was approved, Hawkins declined to comment about any affiliation with Aryan Nation.

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