Republican convention protesters unveil threats of violence against them listen07/19/12 Janelle Irwin
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:
An organization planning to protest at the Republican National Convention next month is claiming they are the target of violent threats. The group ResistRNC has listed several quotes they claim came from direct messages to their website.
Most of the alleged emails warn members of the group not to use violence during their demonstrations. But Amos Miers, one of ResistRNC’s organizers, said some of them are nothing more than threats – like this one:
“It’s from Nick Athan and the subject says ‘funny’ and it states: ‘Ironic that you guys like to dress like ninjas. That will make it more difficult for you to locate me before I dismember you. Also, the police will be too “occupied” to worry about chasing me down which will make my escape an ease. You will be too busy to catch me because you will be choking on a rat-poisoned smoke bomb.”
Miers said many of the threats the group has been receiving from people who lump ResistRNC with notorious groups like Black Bloc and anarchists are contradictory.
“This is in response to what they were claiming that we were going to incite violence or we were instructing people to firebomb the police which, of course, is far from the truth. We have no intentions of that. We’re not promoting that, we don’t discuss that. All of groups speak from tones of non-violence.”
The ResistRNC website also alleges that same man, Nick Athan, sent a second email warning the group to quote, “prepare for your bloodbath.” Another email, supposedly sent by a person named Bill Bartlett cautioned protesters there would be a painful surprise aimed at them if they committed any acts of violence. But in an email response from Bartlett to WMNF, he claimed the email must have been the result of his account getting hacked. WMNF emailed all four addresses from which threats were sent (according to ResistRNC website); Bartlett was the only one to respond. Regardless, the group isn’t worried. Bruce Wright, who started the Romneyville encampment in downtown Tampa, has endorsed ResistRNC despite the threatening emails.
“These are the very same people that have accused ResistRNC and to some extent the Poor People’s Campaign of being violent and we are just the opposite of that. If you look at our principles, we are very committed to non-violence.”
And Wright said backing a violent group is not something he would ever do.
“As a Christian minister myself I couldn’t be involved in something that endorsed violence because I believe that it’s a kingdom value as a Christian to support non-violence. Of course you could look at the history of Dr. King and Ghandi and others and even Jesus himself – violence is not the way to change society.”
According to Janelle McGregor, a Tampa Police Department spokesperson, no one has filed a formal complaint about the threats.
“Our agency is unaware of those threats and it’s imperative that if they are being made that the organization contact law enforcement so that we can look into the situation.”
But ResistRNC’s Miers said they are planning to come forward with the information; they just have to figure out who to give it to. Miers said they started with the Secret Service.
“I contacted him and let him know about the threats and he, of course, correctly stated it’s not in his jurisdiction. So I just basically wanted to point it out to him first and then decide where to go with it from there and I’m waiting for a response – he’s going to let me know which, because it’s national I need to know which jurisdictions to discuss this with and also discuss with legal counsel the correct way to move forward.”
Another website, Police One is also troubling the activist group. Miers said comments about protesters and ResistRNC specifically suggest that it is possible some law enforcement officers who will be on the streets of Tampa during the convention are planning to hurt protesters.
“The comments on this page – they’re talking about shooting people in the forehead from tall buildings of people protesting. They want to shoot people…and that they want to commit harm on people speaking out against the government.”
The Tampa Police Department said they cannot comment on that website because there is no way to know who made the threatening comments because all users on the website are anonymous.