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Monday, September 16, 2019

The Edawn Coughman Hate Crime Hoax

     In 2012, 23-year-old offensive tackle Edawn Coughman, out of Shaw University, a historically black Baptist liberal arts school in Raleigh, North Carolina, made the Seattle Seahawks practice squad. During the next four years, Coughman was signed by the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins without making the active rosters of any of these teams.

     In 2016, Edawn Coughman was out of football and living in Buford, Georgia. He started two businesses, Create and Bake Pizza and an ice cream shop called Coughman's Creamery in a shopping plaza on Duluth Highway in unincorporated Lawrenceville, a community 25 miles northeast of Atlanta.

     In 2019, Mr. Coughman, as a businessman, was struggling.

     At nine-thirty on the night of September 11, 2019, a maintenance worker at the Lawrenceville shopping plaza saw someone inside Create and Bake Pizza and Coughman's Creamery destroying the interiors of these establishments. The plaza worker called 911.

     When deputies with the Gwinett County Sheriff's Office arrived at the scene, they saw a black man behind the wheel of a Chevrolet pickup truck without license plates. When officers pulled the truck over, they noticed several flat-screen television sets in the cab and truck bed.

     The driver of the pickup turned out to be Edawn Coughman. The television screens had mounting brackets with pieces of drywall attached. The sets had obviously been recently ripped from their places on walls.

     Inside Mr. Coughman's businesses, officers discovered, besides evidence that several television sets had been pulled off the walls,  graffiti in still tacky black spray paint. The booth cushions in both establishments had also been so defaced. On the walls, the vandal had drawn swastikas and written the words "monkey," and "MAGA" (Make America Great Again) as well as the n-word.

     In Coughman's truck, officers found a crowbar believed to have been used to pry open the back doors to his businesses. Deputies also discovered several recently used black spray cans. The owner of the burglarized businesses was further incriminated by fresh stains of black paint on his hands.

     In the course of their investigation, officers learned that while Mr. Coughman did not report the burglary/hate crime to the police, he had filed a report with his insurance company. This suggested that Coughman had not only created a racial hate crime hoax, he had intended to defraud his insurance company.

     On September 12, 2019, a Gwinett County prosecutor charged Edawn Coughman with falsely reporting a burglary and insurance fraud. Shortly after being booked into the Gwinett County Jail on those charges, the 30-year-old posted his $8,300 bail and was released.

     It's bad enough to defraud an insurance company, but a lot worse to stoke racial tensions by staging a fake hate crime.

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