A 600% increase in threats! Hey DOJ, where are the arrests?

Jena Griswold, the Colorado Secretary of State was on Chris Hayes talking about the threats she got and revealed that there was a 600% increase in threats to her and staff. 600% WTF?

That day, she received an email declaring: “We are coming for you bitch.” Another person emailed, “If you have kids, I hope they get murdered by illegal aliens,” adding, “Seriously, just die.”

In a voicemail, someone said, “I can’t wait to find you and follow you to your house and expose your address.” Another person left a voicemail saying, “I’d love for you to die.” Some time this month, a person told Griswold on social media, “Take my advice and wear Kevlar … a lot of Kevlar!!!”

‘Just Die’: Colorado Elections Chief Who Took on Trump Sees 600% Spike in Threats, By Andrew Perez, Adam Rawnsley, Ryan Bort, Asawin Suebsaeng March 28, 2024 

On these cable news segments we often hear some specific threats, but unless someone counts all the threats, and then tells the media about them, we never know just how huge the problem is. And if we don’t know how huge the problem is, we also don’t know how terrible the response to the problem is.

At the end of the segment Griswold talked about how the DOJ Election Threat Response Task Force has failed. It’s been going since 2021 and has only 20 convictions.

Have you heard about any of those 20 convictions? Did you see any mugshots of the perps who are now serving 3 1/2 years in prison for threatening election officials? No. Because the DOJ didn’t use any photos of the convicted felons in their press release or press conference!

This is a huge failure by the DOJ. They MUST promote their successes to send a message to the general public that if you threaten election officials, their staff and poll workers you will be found, arrested, tried and punished. And I’m not the only one who thinks this. This is from AZ’s new secretary of state,

Even when federal prosecutors secure a victory after charging people making these violent threats, Arizona’s secretary of state argues that barely anyone hears about it — and that’s a major problem.

“In almost every other area criminality is deterred through public campaigns,” he adds. The Justice Department’s election task force issues typically press releases after convictions, but Fontes says press releases aren’t enough to deter people or adequate given the extent of the problem.

Top Arizona Dem: Biden’s DOJ Is Failing to Protect Election Workers From ‘Domestic Terrorism’

As my friend Bill said, that’s like if the feds did a massive drug and weapons bust but didn’t have a photo of the guy they busted or a photo of the 600 pounds of cocaine stacked up next to 275 rocket propelled grenades.

I couldn’t find a photo anywhere online of Joshua Russell of Bucyrus, Ohio who got 2.5 years in prison for death threats made in 2022 to Arizona’s top election official. The only mug shot I found was of Frederick Goltz of Lubbock Texas. He threaten Arizona elected officials and their kids on RW social media. I read all court documents for the entire Goltz case and the media coverage. His lawyers used all the usual explanations, ‘He was joking. He was in another state, he didn’t intend to take action, his comment was taken out of context, he is a good father who cares for his kids.” The prosecution countered all of those and proved he was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Goltz was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison. This would have been an excellent case for the DOJ to promote nationally as a deterrent, because he threatened to kill kids too. But they didn’t. It was one of the victims who posted on social media that I found the mugshot. The VICTIMS should NOT have to promote the successful prosecution.

In the case of threats to Jena Griswold, the Colorado Secretary of State’s office went to the journalists at Rolling Stone and told them what was happening. THIS IS NOT what law enforcement tells people to do. But when law enforcement isn’t doing their job, they have to. Law enforcement knew of all the threats to Judge Engoron’s clerk during Trump’s trial, but they don’t talk about “ongoing investigations” so the New York state court system’s Department of Public Safety kept count of the threats and told the media. Here’s Lisa Rubin telling Chris Hayes about the 275 Pages of transcribed voicemail threats. When he saw that the scale and scope of the threats it finally made an impact on Hayes.

The Secretary Of State office had to go the press because law enforcement isn’t doing their job. But even media pressure isn’t enough. There needs to be an look into WHY law enforcement is failing and fix the problem. Thanks to great reporting from Linda So and Jason Szep at Reuters, we’ve learned that law enforcement often won’t investigate and they dismiss threats as not rising to the level of criminal threat prosecution. Or they declare them “protected political speech”  But based on the experts who reviewed the threats it’s that’s a bullshit excuse. This is a must read piece on the failure of law enforcement to manage threats to U.S. election workers. It’s from 2021 and is damning.
U.S. election workers get little help from law enforcement as terror threats mount Reuters Campaign of Fear Sept. 8, 2021,

What’s really behind law enforcement not wanting to do this?
1) It’s not a priority
2) They don’t have a budget
3) They don’t see it as a big deal, it’s “online” or on social media, so it’s not local or “real world.”
4) It’s a lot of work for a low conviction rate, especially if they have to prove intent.
5) The people getting threatened aren’t important (POC, low-level election workers, women like Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss)
6) The people who are doing the threatening are not seen as domestic terrorists.
7) Lots of cops are MAGA Trumpers

I’ve dug into the reasons and excuses for law enforcement’s failure to act.
1) Show the problem is huge and real.
The Secretary of States offices, should talk to more people in the media about scale and scope.
They should describe the actions that need to be taken, and by whom.
There should be talk about who is blocking those actions and what pressures they are using.
(Is this about Trump lovers? Budget? Fear of speaking out?)
4) Determine what pressures can apply to get action. What if the stories about 1,000s of threats isn’t enough? Do we need to expose the INTENTIONAL internal failures and how they will lead to deaths?

And finally, since I LOVE to talk about successes, not just failures, when a law gets passed or a person is convicted for threats or a victim wins a civil law suit and is compensated for their pain and suffering, promote those stories! Make it a big deal!
(BTW, I’ve been doing this by educating groups on the power of civil legal actions and teaching them how to do follow up stories with the media. What I don’t know how to do, and needs to be done, is a social media plan that addresses the coordinated disinformation and gaslighting and fights back.)

One thing I learned from Glenn Kirschner is that the DOJ wants people to believe they are above pressure, but he said when they get new information, either from the original reporting or from reports from sources like the Secretary of State’s offices, the DOJ is forced to look at it and respond.

Based on this information everyone being threatened needs to USE that information. Get your story out there. Demand of law enforcement, “Where are the arrests?” If law enforcement does HAVE a success, SHOW IT!

Get the media to stop with their OWN excuses. I still see a reflexive move of the media to give the benefit of the doubt to people making threats. I get it, they don’t want to be seen as censors. They want to be able to criticize elected officials, Chris Hayes was still pushing the “You should expect some incoming” as a DA, as a normal experience, until he heard of the 275 transcribed pages of voicemail threats. That finally got through to him. But the media, and the public, need to hear it OVER AND OVER again. The right is exploiting our old views of in-person free speech in an actual public square, via an era of anonymous bots pushing lies and threats on social media.

The DOJ Election threats Task Force should be doing big national stories about the people who are in jail for threats. SO big that FOX news can’t avoid covering them. And when RW social media and FOX try to turn the perpetrators into “misunderstood martyrs” whose “free speech is being censored!” There needs to be a social media rapid response team that flips that lie around. “This guy IS NOT A “FREE SPEECH” HERO.” THIS GUY THREATENED TO KILL KIDS, HE IS BEING PUNISHED AS THE LAW PROVIDES.”

The social media owners should know this is against their Terms Of Service AND the LAW! Any gaslighting about being free speech needs to be called out as the BS it is.

Finally. I’d repeat what John Keller, head of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, had to say in this press conference,

“Death threats are not debate.
Death threats do not contribute to the marketplace of ideas.
Death threats are not a protected constitutional right.”

John Keller, head of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force
John Keller, head of the Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force

When there are no big stories about convictions for threats, no photos of the people who are going to prison for years following a trial by a jury of their peers, there will be no deterrence. Yes, justice was done, but the public doesn’t know about. Humans need to SEE justice being done.

I asked people for an example of seeing justice getting done. They recommended the ending scene of The Untouchables. I thought that was appropriate, especially since Trump has taken to comparing himself to Al Capone lately.

Cross posted to Digby’s Hullabaloo

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