Lawmaker receives lynching threat, Trump supporters descend on SOS’s house

By: - December 7, 2020 9:25 am

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson at Ford Field in Detroit, Nov. 3, 2020 | Andrew Roth

Two Michigan officials from Detroit faced threats over the weekend in connection to state election results. 

State Rep. Cynthia Johnson (D-Detroit) said she received racist death threats and threatening voicemails. She shared one on her Facebook page. 

Cynthia Johnson

Johnson, Democratic vice chair of the state House Oversight Committee, took part in a hearing on Wednesday where she and her colleagues heard unproven claims of voter fraud during last month’s presidential election. The meeting featured President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Guiliani, who is now reportedly hospitalized for COVID-19. Elements of the marathon meeting later became satire on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.” 

Johnson, who is African American, posted a lynching threat. The woman began by calling her a “fu–ing old, fu–ing Black cu–.”

“Honey, how dare you bully witnesses on the stand. Your name and phone number’s out there now,” a voice on the phone said. “You’re gettin’ doxxed, bitch. You’re done. You’re so fu–ing done. You should be swinging from a fu–ing rope, you Democrat. You fu–ing Democrats stealin’ the election. You deserve everything you fu–ing get.”

The woman concludes by saying, “Democrats are goin’ down, especially big lip ni–ers like you.”

Michigan has certified the results of the November election, with President-elect Joe Biden defeating Trump winning by more than 150,000 votes. The bipartisan State Board of Canvassers certified Michigan election results on Nov. 23. 

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However, many Trump supporters want the election results either thrown out in court or for the Legislature to take action, even though election law does not permit that. Some GOP lawmakers have not ruled out doing so, as the Advance reported last week.

State Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) conveyed in a tweet her concern about the matter and other threats in recent months. 

“This type of racist vitriol has been occurring against BIPOC [Black, indigenous, and other people of color] women in professional settings from before covid & the 2020 election. (I’ve endured some which thankfully the authorities handled). Covid & the election have increased the misogynoir & violence. It must end. #TakeOnHate,” she wrote.

Meanwhile, pro-Trump supporters marched outside Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson’s Detroit home on Sunday. 

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Video of the incident appeared on broadcast news. Some of the demonstrators were wearing Trump paraphernalia and called for a “forensic audit” of Michigan election results. Benson said that she and her 4-year son were hanging Christmas decorations at the time. 

“I have always been an energetic advocate for the right and importance of peaceful protest as enshrined in the United States Constitution,” said Benson in a statement. “However there is a line crossed when gatherings are done with the primary purpose of intimidation of public officials who are carrying out the oath of office they solemnly took as elected officials.”

“The individuals gathered outside my home targeted me as Michigan’s Chief Election officer. But their threats were actually aimed at the 5.5 million Michigan citizens who voted in this fall’s election, seeking to overturn their will. They will not succeed in doing so.” 

Other secretaries of state in states Trump lost have reported violent threats, including Brad Raffensperger, a Georgia Republican.

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In a joint statement, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy condemned the protesters, calling their actions “mob-like behavior.”

“They shouted baseless conspiracy theories about the election, and in videos uploaded to social media, at least one individual could be heard shouting ‘you’re murderers’ within earshot of her child’s bedroom,” the statement read, in part.

In October before the election, state and federal officials announced they had foiled a right-wing extremist plot to kidnap and assassinate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and possibly burn down the Capitol. The governor’s mansion has been the target of several armed protests this year.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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