Levi Lehman of American Straight Edge has been accused of racism after a news story from May 2018 reported that Lehman had been charged with a misdemeanor hate crime. The charge arose following a conflict with a neighbor, a mixed-race family, that resulted in video evidence showing Lehman mounting a noose on his fence The use of nooses for the purposes of intimidation is a misdemeanor under a statute of the California anti-hate law, which also bans the display of symbols such as swastikas and burning crosses for similar purposes.
From the original Press-Enterprise news story:
Levi Jared Grant Lehman, 30, pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge Feb. 16 . He has been out of custody on his own recognizance, but Superior Court Commissioner Tamara Wagner issued a warrant for his arrest April 27  when he failed to appear for a hearing, records show.
Lehman was still at large Friday, May 11 . If convicted, he faces one year in jail, a $5,000 fine or both.
The Paxtons’ home overlooking Riverside’s exclusive Victoria Club backs up to Lehman’s property. Someone threw rocks into their yard in December, including one that smashed through a bedroom window, so they installed surveillance cameras to catch the culprit.
Then, in a video they captured in mid-January, a man on the Lehman’s property is shown putting up a skull that looks like a Halloween decoration — except this one had a noose around its neck. The video also showed the same person setting up a camera in the yard to record the hanging of the noose.
The Paxtons gave the video to police, who then questioned Levi Lehman.
“He admitted to placing it on his fence and stated the reason for it was due to the fact that he believes the unknown black male adult that had come to his residence at around midnight asking for his wife came from Paxton’s residence,” an officer said in an affidavit written to obtain an arrest warrant.
Lehman also told investigators that his property has been vandalized.
Lehman’s father, Grant Lehman, said in a phone interview from Tucson, Arizona, that Levi has moved his family in with him because he is afraid of the Paxtons.
Grant Lehman said the Paxtons are “terrorizing a Jewish family” and have tampered with the natural-gas line at his son’s house. Levi Lehman told police that someone slashed his tires and shattered his windows, according to a court document.
Gregg and Peggy Paxton denied those allegations.
Riverside police Officer Ryan Railsback said Levi Lehman “has not been able to provide one shred of evidence on anything they have been doing.”
Watch the original news story below:
In response to the accusations, Lehman put out a statement through the American Straight Edge Instagram page, which was deleted shortly thereafter:
I want to address the issue everyone is asking me about. However I can not legally speak publicly about the incident that occurred & the people involved due to our legal settlement in Court. What I can say is that I have and always will oppose racism on a personal and systematic level.
The latest statement was issued today, June 5, 2020, again through the American Straight Edge Instagram page:
Before we move forward with any sort of posting from our brand, I would like to make this public statement. I would like to address and incident that occurred in 2018 between my former neighbors and my family. I would like to address the accusations regarding the racist act that was filed against me and would like to make a public apology. I am listening to your voices and frustrations. My past mistakes are with me, and I own them along with having caused many the feeling of betrayal. I sincerely apologize to all whom I have offended.
Being in the spotlight is not easy. It comes with ups and downs like any other [person's] journey. I have always and will continue to use my platform to stand against racism. There are no excuses for the past. I give you my word as a father, with bi-racial children, that I own my mistakes. That saying "Love you neighbor as you love yourself" is a saying I learned the hard way. I don't expect everyone to understand my side. To every story there are two authors.
2018 was the darkest year of my life. Many would like me to address the timeline of events in detail. For respect of the other party involved, those details will remain heard by the justice system during the settled course case. In the past I have had the tendency to run from [life's] hardships, and this current storm is one that I am facing head on.
The Paxton family has been contacted for a statement, which we will provide as available. Please be advised that this attempt to contact the Paxton family was made without the consent of Lehman, as he is currently seeking to respect the family's privacy.