Alt-Right Troll Ethan Schmidt-Crockett Sentenced For Harassing Mesa Wig Store | Phoenix New Times
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Alt-Right Troll Ethan Schmidt-Crockett Sentenced For Harassing Mesa Wig Store

“Sometimes people think the First Amendment means you can say and do whatever you want. It doesn’t,” Mesa Judge Raymond Schumacher said Thursday.
Ethan Schmidt-Crockett appeared in Mesa Municipal Court on March 2 after harassing people at a Mesa wig store.
Ethan Schmidt-Crockett appeared in Mesa Municipal Court on March 2 after harassing people at a Mesa wig store. Elias Weiss
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Update: Ethan Schmidt-Crockett wants $10,000 for the Nikes he used to trample a Target pride display.

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Ethan Schmidt-Crockett was wearing an untucked polo shirt, cargo pants, and gym shoes when he entered the courtroom on Thursday morning; his signature auburn mustache was curled into a handlebar. This wasn’t the first time Schmidt-Crockett has seen the inside of a courtroom.

The far-right troll was convicted of both trespassing in Scottsdale and an Extreme DUI in Chandler in 2021. He also has been arrested for violating his probation and failing to appear in court as recently as June 2022, according to court records.

This time, the anti-mask and anti-LGBTQ activist was called to answer for his actions in May 2021 when he videotaped himself entering private businesses in Mesa that advertised mask mandates and harassing the employees. Schmidt-Crockett claimed that he was there to “test their mask policy” to share with his hundreds of thousands of online followers.

One of Schmidt-Crockett’s victims, Sunny’s Hair and Wigs located at Baseline and Alma School roads, served the would-be provocateur with a restraining order in January 2022. The next day, Schmidt-Crockett violated the order and called the store.

He was charged in January 2022 with one count of interfering with judicial proceedings, a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of six months in jail or three years of probation, along with $2,500 in fines. But it would be nearly a year before Schmidt-Crockett would have to face Lady Justice.

On Thursday, Schmidt-Crockett hung his head as he approached Mesa Municipal Court Judge Raymond Schumacher to let him know he longer wanted a bench trial. Representing himself, Schmidt-Crockett pleaded guilty.

Schmidt-Crockett, who said his income is paid in donations from his massive social media following, told the judge that “just a fine would be great.” Instead, after testimony from witnesses, Schumacher slapped him with three years of probation and a suspended sentence of 60 days in jail.

“You crossed the line,” the judge said.

Caught In A Lie

Sunny’s Hair and Wigs caters largely to cancer patients who are immunocompromised, and employees testified that they’ve worn masks inside the business for no less than a decade.

Still, Schmidt-Crockett told his followers on Instagram that the store was “discriminating against” him because he had a “medical and religious exemption.”

In court Thursday, Schumacher asked the defendant to provide a doctor’s note saying he was exempt from wearing a mask. Schmidt-Crockett admitted he fabricated the medical exemption. He also failed to articulate in what way his religion permits defying the rules of a private business.

“Sometimes people think the First Amendment means you can say and do whatever you want,” the judge told Schmidt-Crockett. “It doesn’t.”

Schumacher again caught Schmidt-Crockett in his own web of lies after the defendant testified that he “accidentally called the store.”

“No, you were intentionally calling them,” Schumacher said. “You were calling them to harass them.”

Schmidt-Crockett pleaded in court that he “didn’t single out” the business “in any way,” mere seconds after testifying that he went inside strictly because the shop had a sign on the door indicating that a mask was required to enter. Schmidt-Crockett has said he "loves" to harass people with cancer "because they're weak and vulnerable."
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Employees at Sunny's Hair and Wigs described in court how Ethan Schmidt-Crockett targeted them.
Elias Weiss

‘We Were All Afraid’

Roberta Smith, an employee at Sunny’s Hair and Wigs, testified that the ordeal “was a traumatic experience for everybody.”

After Schmidt-Crockett shared images of employees at the business with his followers, Smith said the business received hundreds of phone calls that ranged from insults to death threats. The business had to disconnect its phone line and lock its door during operating hours, and the staff had to vet each customer at the door before letting them in.

“It hit our income,” Smith said.

Alabama Smith, another employee at the store, delivered tearful testimony about how the series of events drove her to seek therapy.

“I was getting hundreds of phone calls a day, death threats, while I’m just trying to help my community,” she said. “We were all afraid.”

Schmidt-Crockett has evaded jail time for his prior convictions, despite trolling other businesses like PetSmart, where he tried to remove a pride flag, and Target, where he claimed he would “hunt” LGBTQ people. He also has advocated for putting LGBTQ people in concentration camps.

“He can’t keep getting away with everything he’s doing,” Alabama Smith said through tears.
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Ethan Schmidt-Crockett faced one misdemeanor count of interfering with judicial proceedings.
Elias Weiss

‘I Was Dumb’

While Schmidt-Crockett is entitled to his opinions about the efficacy of masks and has a right to free expression, “his position caused harm both emotionally and to the business as a whole,” Assistant City Prosecutor Joshua Olson said. Of the employees at Sunny’s Hair and Wigs, he added, “They shouldn’t have to live in fear of going to work.”

Speaking in his own defense, Schmidt-Crockett identified himself as a “civil rights activist” and said his fallout from the events was near punishment enough. He was banned from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and also lost his privileges to use payment platforms such as PayPal, CashApp, and Venmo, through which he receives the donations that comprise his income, he said.

He claimed to be the victim of “character assassination” by the media, naming Fox 10 Phoenix and ABC 15 Arizona, because “they want to portray anti-maskers as bad people.” In a January 2022 interview with Phoenix New Times, he said the "fake news" slanders him "all the time."

Motioning to the witnesses Thursday, Schmidt-Crockett added, “I received tons of death threats also, just like them.”

But in the end, Schumacher said he couldn’t look past Schmidt-Crockett’s actions and sentenced him to three years on probation. If Schmidt-Crockett breaks the terms of his probation, he’ll spend 60 days in the slammer.

Schmidt-Crockett never apologized to any of the employees at Sunny’s Hair and Wigs on Thursday. “I was dumb. I shouldn’t have called them. It was my mistake," he said.
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