Michigan pastor says white woman coughed on him for not wearing mask

The pastor says he believes his race played a role in the encounter

(credit: screenshot)

A Michigan pastor says a white woman coughed in his face after he forgot his mask outside a pizza place and declares it be to an act of “racism.”

Michael Hale Jr. told Fox 2 Detroit that he and his wife were waiting for their order outside of Belle Isle Pizza on June 19 in Detroit. He went to retrieve his order and that’s when a woman wearing a red hat and mask stopped him. She demanded to know where his mask was.

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“She said ‘Have you lost your mask’ or ‘where’s your mask at’ so I responded ‘Well my mask is in the car and she shouldn’t worry about my mask,'” Hale said. “So when I stood outside and waited for the pizza, that’s when she walked out and really got in my face and coughed directly in my face.”

The surveillance video outside the pizza parlor confirmed Hale’s account of what happened. He confronted the unidentified woman in a matter that the police are now investigating.

“To get that close, that’s assault – I mean, that’s dangerous,” he said.

Hale also felt that racism also played a factor in the woman’s actions. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind.

“It was racism because when we were parked in the pizza place and when she pulled up – and my wife can testify – she looked into our car and just had this gross look at us, at our family,” he said.

Hale knew he should’ve had on his mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 but excused it as a lapse in judgment. He didn’t feel it justified the woman coughing on him.

“Mask or not, somebody shouldn’t be allowed to take it into their own hands to police me about what I’m doing, especially if the business owner or the business establishment doesn’t have an issue with it,” said Hale.

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Hale further explained that he did not feel initially supported by the pizza parlor. However, he and owner Leor Barak have since spoken. Barak wanted to do his part and the two now have plans to work on community projects.

“I think we all need to be on not just be on our best behavior, but I think we need to be even more understanding and me as an anti-racist and as an ally to the movement, we need to step up more than we normally would in these times,” said Barak.

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