What to do if a Trump supporter threatens you

Trump has a long history of making threats. He also directs others, like Michael Cohen, to make threats to specific people.  Trump supporters also hear that Trump expects them to “be tough” when Trump is attacked.

This week Trump explained to a Brietbart editor that when his people in the military and police reach a certain point he expects things will be “very bad, very bad” for his enemies. Trump Again Threatens Violence If Democrats Don’t Support Him

Image by WayneBreivogel

It is clear to me that we cannot stop Trump from inciting and suggesting violence, rather than trying to stop a jackass from braying, I want to focus on what you can do if a Trump supporter threatens you. Below is a case study of someone who was threatened online and the steps she took to deal with it.  Here are the first three steps:

1) Don’t ignore them

2) Demand an investigation of the threats made and the person making them–establish the facts
     There should be due process for the people accused of making the threats

3) If the facts support the case, there should be appropriate consequences for the people who made the threats
     When there are no consequences for threatening others, it continues

Men with guns threaten women online, via email, text or on social media every day. These threats rarely show up in the news unless the woman is shot at, injured or killed. In an average month, 50 American women are shot to death in a domestice violence case. When we look at the background of shooters after the fact we often see a history of domestic violence and threats, which leaves people wondering what they could have done to prevent it.

In this case study our hero, Morena Hockley, didn’t ignore the threat, she did research and found out that the man making the threat was a law enforcement officer. She then demanded an investigation by his employer and got it. What happened after the investigation is also a very important part of the story and that I want more people to learn about.

  Disclosure: I know Morena Hockley through my work on Gun Violence Prevention. I advised her on talking to the press. The photos are in this piece were obtained directly from Hockley or from Facebook.

CASE STUDY PART 1: One of Trump’s “people” in the police threatens his critics

Here’s the story in the San Antonio Express.

Reserve constable deputy suspended after threatening emails to S.A.-area woman over Trump views

by Fares Sabawi

In December 2018, a conservative New Braunfels resident took to Facebook to express displeasure upon discovering a book mocking President Donald Trump was for sale at Got Toys, a gag store in the Central Texas town that often carries items mocking politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Photos of the book “A Child’s First Book of Trump” by Michael Ian Black and Marc Rosenthal at the Got Toys store

What followed was a barrage of supportive and opposing comments, email threats from a Trump-supporting Bexar County reserve constable deputy and his subsequent month-long suspension handed down on Friday.

Precinct 3 Deputy Calloway Lawson, who works part-time for the constable’s office, was apparently upset over comments from people who supported the book store and criticized Trump in their comments. And he let them know how he felt.

Others were more disparaging, insulting people’s size and appearance and using homophobic slurs. Some of his comments, like those making fun of a poster’s name, were trivial.

“Why don’t you go find a safe place and have a group hug with your f***ing liberal f****t friends, you’re probably doing that right now,” he wrote.

Morena Hockley, a local blogger and craftswoman, tried to engage with Lawson at one point on his negative review of the toy store.

“Too bad a book hurt your feelings so badly,” she wrote.

In response, Lawson posted one of Hockley’s Facebook profile pictures with a mocking caption.

Lawson’s behavior allegedly led to multiple users reporting him, which led to the deletion of his Facebook review and a temporary ban from the social media site.

That’s when the reserve deputy allegedly singled her out, found her email address and sent her multiple messages on Dec. 8, 2018. Hockley said she didn’t report Lawson’s comments and wasn’t sure why she was being targeted. Lawson later told an investigating sergeant he though Hockley owned the store in question.

“Do you actually think it was smart getting me kicked off Facebook for a week I’m coming for you you f***ing c**t I’m coming for you,” his first email read.

Lawson sent a second one a minute later that read “every time I look at your f***ing horse mouth in that giant f***ing billboard of a smile you have I think of Mr. Ed, I can’t wait to see you soon,” the second email read.

Lawson did not respond to mySA.com’s interview request seeking comment on Monday.

Reserve constable deputies usually do little investigative work and patrol only as needed. They more often work off-duty at businesses or events.

Hockley didn’t know that though. She saw a law enforcement officer sending her what she perceived were threats, she said in an interview with mySA.com.

“He said ‘I’m coming for you,’ and I’m not sure what kind of information he has access to,” she said. “I took it seriously.”

Hockley responded to the emails in an effort calm him down, assuring him she was not responsible for his account being suspended.

Lawson responded, “telling you see you soon is not a threat I never threatened you believe me, apparently you didn’t take a look at my profile before this started you would know if I threatened you. Have good holidays no one is threatening you.”

That did not quell Hockley’s fears, she said. She asked Garden Ridge police to provide extra patrols by her house and put up a camera outside.

Hockley also filed a formal complaint with the constable’s office against Lawson a month later, on Jan. 8.

Sgt. Jaime Perales investigated Hockley’s complaint and submitted his report to Constable Mark Vojvodich who suspended Lawson for 30 days, pulling his work permits, which prevents him from working off-duty. Lawson was also placed on probation for the remainder of his employment with the constable’s office.

A letter to Hockley about the investigation dated March 8 said Lawson violated multiple department policies, including conduct unbecoming of an officer, bringing discredit and relations with the public and social media.

“However,” Perales wrote in his letter to Hockley, “the alleged threats did not have the elements to charge Deputy Lawson with terroristic threats.”

Hockley was not surprised to hear that. She said investigators told her that Lawson would have had to explicitly threaten her life to be criminally charged.

“But I took it as a threat on my life,” Hockley said. “How else am I supposed to interpret this. He said ‘I can’t wait to see you,’ especially with his (Facebook) picture showing all his guns in it.”

Though Vojvodich did not respond to interview requests from mySA.com, Perales said it was a complaint the office took seriously.

“We’re sorry it turned out the way it did because Precinct 3 doesn’t condone that language or behavior,” Perales said.

Lawson expressed regret for the incident, Perales said, and said he “should have just kept quiet.”

“He regrets it, he said everybody left negative comments so he left negative comments,” Perales said.

Perales said Lawson told him that, “I’m coming for you,” meant he was planning on posting more negative comments when he was allowed back on Facebook.

“At no time did he mean that he was going to physically harm her,” Perales said.

Though Perales did not decide on Lawson’s punishment, he said the discipline is “pretty significant.”

“That’s how he makes his living and it’s hurting him right now,” Perales said. “We can assure people that won’t happen again.”

CASE STUDY PART 2: Tell Your Story To the Press

At this point most stories about complaints based on threats end.  But when Hockley got the letter from Precinct 3 she thought the punishment was too lenient. Several people suggested she take the story to the press, which she did.

I advise activists about how best to interact with the media. One of the things I explain to them is that reporters will make an effort to talk to both sides. They also like to talk to third-party experts for context. You might have a solid story, but to the reporter your story is just one “she said” vs a trained police spokesperson’s “he said.”

Spokespeople for the police know the exact right thing to tell the media.  For example, in the answers above note what Sgt. Jaime Perales conveyed to the reporter:

  • He recast Lawson’s intent to something that didn’t rise to the level of a firing offence. This recasting happened months later, only after Lawson got in trouble for making the threat.
  • He relayed regret from Lawson, months later, and made a pledge that it will not happen again.
  • He stated department principles and condemnation of Lawson’s manner, which “does not present the department in what it stands for”
  • He shifted focus from the seriousness of the threat to what the organization saw as a serious penalty to the perpetrator

I advised Hockley to ask to speak to the reporter after he talked to the officials to find out what they said about her case. This is because in most stories the officials get the final word. Hockley had done research on Lawson’s history (as referenced in the story).

In addition, when she talked to the press, she provided additional context for the story based on third-party research. It turns out that  Bexar County was named one of the deadliest counties in Texas for domestic violence in 2017.   As Hockley put it, “How can women trust police to keep them safe when men like this are protected by the police department?

Political spokespeople use the opportunity to get the last word with the press all the time. It’s called “getting another bite of the apple.” When a politician says something really terrible, the spokesperson “walks it back” or “clarifies.”

What doesn’t usually happen is a reporter challenging the credibility of an explanation, the redefinition of a term or a different interpretation of a law than is commonly understood.

To deal with this reporting process it is incumbent on us to prepare for multiple possible responses.

When Hockley spoke to the reporter again and heard what the officials had to say she was able respond to their answers about why she was still concerned and explained her next steps. The San Antonio Express story continues.

But Hockley disagreed. She felt the punishment was lenient, considering that Lawson was reportedly previously fired from the Cibolo Police Department after a spotty attendance record and a questionable arrest of a woman he said tried to run him over in 2007.

The woman initially pleaded guilty to the charge, according to the University of Michigan’s National Registry of Exonerations, but the conviction was vacated because of her poor legal defense and Lawson’s questionable behavior.

“He’s unstable, has a history of crossing the line and breaking the law and yet he’s still going to be kept on as a peace officer,” Hockley said. “That astounds me.”

Perales said he was unaware of Lawson’s past and that it was not part of his investigation.

Hockley said she supports local law enforcement but still plans on taking her complaint to the next Bexar County Commissioners Court meeting, she said.

“I spent the past three months looking over my shoulder,” she said.

CASE STUDY PART 3: Protect yourself and others from threats in the future

When I talk to people about men with guns making threats and how to respond, they often reply, “If you report them and they get punished, they might get REALLY angry?”  Or, “What if you report a threat and nothing happens?”

In this case, the complaint wasn’t ignored, but the response seemed inadequate. What to do now? This brings up the next steps:

Fix the systems, policies and laws in communities to better deal with threats and the people making them.

4) If the consequences for the threat seemed inappropriate for the crime, work to change the consequences

This might involve going to the police commission and asking them to change their policies.

5) If no laws exist for the situation in your community, find groups that are working to pass them and offer to help.
Many states have created Red Flag laws, Extreme Risk Protection Orders or Emergency Gun Restraining Orders. If your state doesn’t have these laws, find a group that is working on developing them and help See a list of state that have them here. See current Status of State Red Flag Laws updated interactive chart  

6) If laws exist, but people don’t know about them, learn them and educate others on how to use them
California now has ERPO laws, but many people don’t know how to use them. Some GVP groups, DAs and police department officials in California are traveling around the state educating people on the laws.

7) If laws exist, but aren’t enforced because of lack of resources, demand more resources

Talking to the Bexar County Commissioners Court can be about more than just asking for a change in their policies about threats coming from law enforcement. It also can be an opportunity to get resources to help the entire community deal with domestic violence. 5 years of deaths and injuries from domestic violence cases in San Antonio: Gun Violence Archive.

This might include suggesting the commission support ERPO laws which would protect the safety and security of the entire community.

There are 2 red flag bills active in Texas legislature: HB131, SB157  Session ends on May 27, 2019.

As Think Progress’s Zack Ford said on the David Feldman Show podcast. Americans often debate about how much time people deserve for a crime, but “we should have a criminal justice system that is motivated toward improving the safety and comfort of everyone alive.”  

Let’s Use Trump’s Threats To Topple Him

Trump makes threats. Sometimes he personally makes them, other times he has people do it for him.


Rep. Speier: How many times did Mr. Trump ask you to threaten an individual or entity on his behalf?

Michael Cohen: Quite a few times.

Rep. Jackie Speier: 50 times? Cohen: More

Rep. Jackie Speier: 100 times? Cohen: More

Rep. Jackie Speier: 200 times? Cohen: More

Rep. Jackie Speier: 500 times?

Michael Cohen: Probably, over the 10 years.

Cohen says he made “threats of litigation” which makes them sound nice and polite. But listen to this call Cohen made to a reporter. (Link) It’s more than a legal threat. That’s a threat of violence.

For Trump, legal threats aren’t enough. He wants the people on the other end to be afraid for their life. Trump’s use of threats of violence can provide another route to impeachment, in addition to all his campaign finance crimes and other law breaking. Remember this threat to Stormy Daniels and her daughter?

“A guy walked up on me and said to me: ‘Leave Trump alone. Forget the story,’” Clifford said. “Then he leaned around and looked at my daughter and said, ‘That’s a beautiful little girl — it’d be a . . . → Read More: Let’s Use Trump’s Threats To Topple Him

Stop letting lobbyists, pundits and media decide who is electable in 2020

On the January 2nd episode of The Majority Report, Sam Seder talked about the folly of deciding on ‘electability” now.

“Making the electability argument is the most detrimental force to getting a better candidate from the perspective of the left. Because “electability” is exactly what you will hear to discount anyone coming from the left.”

It’s a great point. He goes on to explain that the center right wants to define electability. He points out that there are people and industries that want to set what is electable for the left, especially in certain issues, like health care.

Then they illustrated this with clips of two democrats who were auditioning for lobbyist positions for drug companies and health insurance companies following the 2020 elections.

The drug companies and health insurance firms will want to influence whomever is running for president on the left. Since nobody knows exactly who it will be, they will cover all their bets. They hire former politicians as lobbyists on the left, betting that in 2020 a Democrat president will be in power.

The drug and insurance companies want to determine what is “electable” FOR THEM. They want to set what is a “reasonable” position on any health . . . → Read More: Stop letting lobbyists, pundits and media decide who is electable in 2020

How to stop friends fighting over the 2020 President picks

Watching the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination race start on MSNBC makes me weary. Friends tell me they dread it.

One said, “Spocko, my brain will explode if we go through another campaign season like 2016!”

As someone who has had his brain removed I am strongly against brains exploding, especially ones on our side. So, how can you stop friends fighting and brains exploding?

Here is what I’m going to do:  Every time I see an online debate about Warren, Beto, Biden, Harris, Sanders or any possible Democratic presidential nominee I will stop and ask myself.

“What can I do stop the criminality of Republicans? What can I do to expose the anti-democratic institutions and organization they run? How can I de-fund and defeat the people and groups that made Trump, McConnell and Ryan possible?”

Then I will act, based on how I answer those questions.

“But Spocko,” Mr. Lefty McLefterson says, “Some of the people on my side are WRONG!  Isn’t it my duty to educate them? If they aren’t castigated NOW for who they supported in the past, how can they learn from their mistakes?  If I don’t explain why their candidate isn’t the best, we will get Trump . . . → Read More: How to stop friends fighting over the 2020 President picks

Watch The Sexy Spy, But Follow The Rubles To NRA’s GOP Campaigns

“Follow the rubles,” said the modern-day Deep Throat.  But following money is boring!  Who cares if you find the connections between Russia, the NRA and the 2016 elections of Republican politicians and campaign finance law violations?

Luckily we have Maria Butina*. Everyone wants to know about her and her leader’s plan to influence the US elections.

In the same way the Stormy Daniels’ case gave the media an eye-catching hook to look into the corrupt dealings of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, so too will the Maria Butina case give the media a way to look deeper into the Russian connection to the NRA and the influence they have had on the Trump campaign as well as MULTIPLE REPUBLICANS.

Because the mainstream media needs to look serious, they won’t just cover this “unregistered foreign agent” they will also report on the multiple campaign finance violations committed by the NRA over the years. The sexy spy will lead the coverage, which is fine with me, as long as the NRA involvement is fully exposed. Currently the NRA is dodging the media or saying this connection is no big deal.. The investigations from the FBI and FEC should prove . . . → Read More: Watch The Sexy Spy, But Follow The Rubles To NRA’s GOP Campaigns

Nation’s Right-Wing Uncle: “I won the Thanksgiving conversations!”

“My sister begged me not to talk about politics at Thanksgiving,” said Uncle Dick Vespa, speaking from a recliner in his sister’s house in a Lincoln Nebraska suburb.

“She pleaded with me, ‘Talk about happy memories when we were kids.’ So I did. The happiest days of MY childhood were teasing her until she cried!”

While Uncle Dick sat in the living room waiting for his younger sister and niece to clean up, he explained why he had no choice but to attack, correct and educate his relatives during the annual holiday event.

“Look, it’s not my fault. From the second I arrived everyone attacked me! I came into the kitchen and my sister was ranting about how important government regulations were, blah blah blah. I didn’t catch it all because she started going off about the food I bought: a very expensive 17 pound honey-baked ham. I know I said I was going to bring a salad, since they’ve been vegan for years, but the stores removed all the romaine lettuce because of the caravan invasion. I couldn’t make my famous Caesar salad so I got a ham instead–which, by the way, was much more expensive. I figured . . . → Read More: Nation’s Right-Wing Uncle: “I won the Thanksgiving conversations!”

Win or Lose: We Must Demand Investigations

Democrats are expected to be good winners. After a Democratic win, the media will ask the Democrats just how bipartisan they will be going forward. Most Democrats fall for this. They will reach out to their opponent and talk about a “hard-fought race.” Even if their opponent lied about their past votes on health care and supported hateful and violent rhetoric from Trump. The Democrats will talk about being a representative for all the people in the district, not just the people who voted for them.

They will want to be a uniter, not a divider. I understand. They don’t want to be like Red Hats at a Trump rally mindlessly screaming ‘Lock him up!’ about their opponents. But what if their opponents actually committed crimes?   

Red and Blue Good Sports, AP photo CBS News

Democrats are expected to be good losers. They aren’t supposed to demand investigations of voter suppression, hacking and campaign election fraud. There will be pressured to conceded rather than fight the results.  The media, and the Republicans, will want concessions even when there isn’t an  overwhelmingly clear winner.  Brooks Brothers Riots will abound.

Howie Klein said the other day that many Democrats have to . . . → Read More: Win or Lose: We Must Demand Investigations

Thanksgiving 2018 Prediction: Conservative Relatives Will Ask For Forgiveness From Liberals

November 11, 2018 –  Following the huge loses in this year’s midterms by conservative Republicans, Thanksgiving dinners in homes across the country will be different. Based on new quantum predictive research, conservative relatives will be asking for forgiveness from liberal relatives.  In addition to apologizing for their misguided anger at democratic politicians, they will be asking questions to better understand their progressive relatives.

Conservative Uncle Jeff will be apologizing to his niece Joan for his previous attacks on liberals and Democratic politicians at Thanksgiving 2018

This radical change in behavior is based on new quantum predictive research from the Center for Family Political Response at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople,

“The change will be stunning. The time of “doubling down” on hate, racism, sexism and bigotry by conservatives is over.” said Dr. Art Foneman, associate professor in clinical political science.

The surprising thing is that the change in attitude and language will be coming from conservative media!  Scientific research has shown that conservative media is the most powerful driver of attitudes and behaviors on the right. In the past when conservatives lost elections conservative media revved up the division and ran stories attacking the Democratic politician winners. . . . → Read More: Thanksgiving 2018 Prediction: Conservative Relatives Will Ask For Forgiveness From Liberals

If today’s American media covered the news from Berlin on November 10, 1938

Fuchs Nachrichten Berlin, November 10, 1938,  Parteifunktionäre sagen,  “Beide Seiten müssen die Rhetorik abschwächen.”

View of a destroyed Jewish shop in Berlin on Nov. 11, 1938, after the anti-Semitic violence of Kristallnacht. The pogrom unleashed Nazi-coordinated attacks on thousands of synagogues and Jewish businesses.

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Powerful People With Advanced Technology: A Star Trek Story

When I’m not trying to defund the people making money on hate speech, violent rhetoric, gun sales, misogyny and bigotry, I read and watch science fiction. I don’t write it but I recently saw a Writing Prompt at Reddit that inspired me. Here’s the premise:

Researchers have developed a prototype for teleportation but it hasn’t been announced to the public. Being the 53rd tester, you hop in. But as the scientists pull the switch, you feel your body being ripped apart. Before you fade away, you see yourself come out, reassuring everyone it worked.

My science fiction story takes place in the near future:

Yes I am a Star Trek fan. A HUGE one. I’ve written as “Spocko” for over 20 years. When an announcement of the human teleportation trials came out my brother and I volunteered. Of course I had read why teleportation was created in Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry knew they couldn’t afford to make shuttlecraft sets and flying down to the planets slowed down the plot. Thus, the transporter was born. Here’s how they did it.

Since Gene had gotten so much right about the future from multiple races and genders working together to the creation of . . . → Read More: Powerful People With Advanced Technology: A Star Trek Story