Republican leaders in the Michigan House stripped a Black Democratic lawmaker of her committee assignments Wednesday because she took to social media to warn “Trumpers,” after saying she had received at least one racist threat that she should be lynched.
Rep. Cynthia Johnson, of Detroit, sits on a GOP-led committee that heard baseless allegations of widespread election fraud from President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani and others last week. Johnson reported getting multiple threats after the hearing, including one in which a Texas man told her to “rot in hell” and threatened to burn several crosses in her yard and hang a noose from her tree.
On Tuesday night, she took to Facebook to warn “you Trumpers. Be careful. Walk lightly. We ain’t playing with you. Enough of the shenanigans. Enough is enough. And for those of you who are soldiers, you know how to do it. Do it right. Be in order. Make them pay.”
House Speaker Lee Chatfield, of Levering, and Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth, of Farwell, said they were exploring further disciplinary action against the first-term legislator, who lost her spot on three committees.
“Threats to either Democrats or Republicans are unacceptable and un-American. They’re even more unbecoming of an elected official,” they said in a joint statement stating that violence and intimidation is never appropriate in politics. “That applies to threats made toward public officials, and it must also apply when the threats come from public officials. Behavior like this will not be tolerated this term or next.”
Johnson could not be reached for comment. Earlier in the video, she urged people to “be smart” and “hit them in the pocketbook” — an apparent reference to Trump supporters. She said the FBI and state police had identified an Illinois woman who left her a voicemail saying she would post Johnson’s phone number to a million people.
On Wednesday, Johnson made a video urging “soldiers” — Christians and those opposing racism, misogyny, domestic violence, domestic terrorism and mistreatment of Black and brown people — “to rise.”
In the wake of the presidential election, lawmakers and other officials from both parties have reported being threatened by citizens amid Trump’s campaign to subvert the will of voters and reverse his reelection loss to Democrat Joe Biden by targeting key battleground states. Biden won Michigan by 154,000 votes, or 2.8 percentage points.
State Attorney General Dana Nessel, a Democrat, said she received more than 80 calls Wednesday regarding the threats of violence against Johnson, the legislator’s reaction and whether Nessel’s office would investigate.
“The threats Rep. Johnson has received are appalling, ugly and deeply disturbing, but her response to those messages is also unacceptable and I strongly condemn both,” Nessel said in a statement. She urged people to call 911 or the police if they have been threatened or fear for their safety.
“When vigilantes assume justice is theirs to serve, our democracy suffers,” Nessel said. “It’s time for us to move forward together as a state instead of engaging in — or celebrating — actions of hate and divisiveness.”
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