A 31-year-old Bloomington man was charged Friday with committing a hate crime after allegedly setting off a scary but harmless "smoke device" during a Black Lives Matter demonstration.
Andrew Menssen faces one hate crime count (a Class 4 felony) and eight misdemeanor counts of reckless conduct, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, and child endangerment.
Menssen allegedly set off the device as demonstrators gathered Wednesday night near the McLean County Law and Justice Center. Witnesses said it appeared to be a store-bought smoke bomb. Police said it was harmless. Prosecutors described it as a "smoke canister" or a "smoke device."
On social media witnesses shared photos of Menssen at the scene, and he turned himself into police a few hours later.
It was the second scary moment for local demonstrators in just four days. A motorcyclist allegedly drove into a separate crowd after an NAACP rally Sunday night. That motorcyclist faces more serious charges (17 felony counts), including hate crime charges. Two people were injured in that attack.
The child endangerment charges against Menssen stem from a child who reportedly fell and suffered a minor injury as the crowd reacted to the smoke.
The hate crime charge alleges Menssen was motivated by "the actual or perceived creed of a group of individuals," according to court documents.