A Maryland resident named James Reed has been criminally charged with threats against a major candidate for President or Vice President after he left a letter at the front door of a Biden supporter’s home in which he insisted that he would torture and kill the Democratic nominees. While there’s no apparent indication that Reed took substantive steps towards being able to accomplish his goals, what is clear is that this incident did not take place in a vacuum. President Donald Trump has helped foster a national political climate of vitriolic hatred, which helps give cover to people like James Reed.
Reed’s personal political affiliation isn’t immediately clear, but it seems safe to assume that he supports Trump. Reed didn’t only threaten Biden and Harris, but his violent letter threatened their supporters as well. On top of the federal criminal charge over targeting the candidates, Reed also faces state criminal charges of threatening mass violence and voter intimidation.
Reed’s letter read, in part:
‘This is a warning to anyone reading this letter if you are a Biden/Harris supporter you will be targeted. We have a list of homes and addresses by your election signs. We are the ones with those scary guns, We are the ones your children have nightmares about.’
CBS Baltimore says that the “rest of the message is too graphic to detail, but claims that they will allegedly beat Biden and sodomize Harris before executing them on national television.”
The Maryland resident who Reed targeted says that they do not know him personally. They note that they had “several” signs outside of their home expressing support for the Democratic ticket, CBS Baltimore adds. Reed left his violent letter outside their home at about 4:30 A.M. on October 4, and — after getting identified from security footage from the home he targeted — he was interviewed by investigators about the incident on October 13. Initially, he denied that he was the person who left the letter, but two days later, he admitted to the crime and was arrested.
Reed reportedly faces a maximum of 5 years in prison if he is convicted of the federal charge against him. An affidavit released by investigating authorities indicates that the Secret Service was already aware of Reed because of a threat that he made against someone under Secret Service protection in 2014, although it’s not immediately clear who his previous target was.
U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur said:
‘We take these types of threats extremely seriously. Such threats to commit violence are illegal and have no place in our democracy, and we will hold accountable those who make them. We are grateful for the assistance of the City of Frederick Police Department and to citizens who provided tips that ultimately led to Mr. Reed’s arrest and these federal charges.’
The incident follows another recent high-profile incident in which the FBI thwarted a militia’s plan to kidnap Michigan’s Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, who has faced vitriolic harassment even from the president over the steps that she has taken to try and stem the spread of the Coronavirus in her state. The revelation of the violent plot against Whitmer did not put a noticeable dent in Trump’s antagonism towards her.