Letter to the editor: Threats to elected officials unacceptable

Dear Editor,

This morning, between Zoom meetings and schedule planning, I came upon a thread on Twitter that stopped me in my tracks and weighs heavy enough to write this letter. There is a lot of anger and disdain in our city, and in communities across the region. Frustrations with elected leadership on some level. Feelings that may be warranted. So much so, that civility ends up being a casualty and a lack of safety is feared.

While the thread in question pertains to women on the Seattle City Council, I know that women on *OUR* city council have received threatening emails as well. You can absolutely express your disdain about decisions made.  However, it is not tolerable to issue threats against them or anyone.  In a town as small as ours, one that is interconnected and intergenerational, it can be difficult to separate professional from personal, but we must.

2021 may be another year of feeling bouts of discontent with issues and decisions coming from our elected leadership, male or female. Phoning and emailing threats cannot be seen as an acceptable “cost of doing business” while trying to serve in any capacity.

Alicia Crank
Edmonds

40 Replies to “Letter to the editor: Threats to elected officials unacceptable”

  1. Alicia, I could not agree more- what would be more interesting is to see and identify the emails that are going to our City Council members.

    If we have to FOIA it to get it and make it public – then so be it, but all of it needs to be outed. There is no room for that sort of thing in Edmonds, and the public needs to have those emails so they can then be aware of the threats.

    Unacceptable, not tolerated, and not what Edmonds is about.

    If you have copies of the emails, I would love to see them, or if Council members are getting them, it might be worthwhile to post them in the Agenda and Packet for discussion at the next council meeting – when they come up with the Final Code of Ethics/Conduct, etc.

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    1. They should be disclosed to police…if they are brazen enough to send threatening emails to City Officials…they are angry enough to attack citizens by email also. So yes., they should be taken to police. This is a threat…that is I am sure illegal. Verbal physical threatening…wouldn’t that be classified in the harassment area??? Lawyers…help us out. Nitty gritty. Tx. Deb.
      In closing it takes a very ignorant and unwise person to send a threatening email, tweet, even FB threats.
      A person making a real threat would never leave that paper trail. Well usually…ha. Hi Alicia…

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  2. Given the political climate in Seattle these days I practically want to yawn to hear about threats. Ppl there have barricaded cops into precincts and set the building on fire. There should be zero tolerance for threats, but that frog has been boiled to death considering there is actual political violence that goes unchecked.

    Receiving political threats is now a form of political legitimacy. I was Chairman of the 21st LD when Donald Trump was elected. I got random threatening phone calls. My dog (I don’t own one), someone called and said it would be killed because Trump was going to repeal Obamacare and kill us all. I guess I’m legit now too.

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    1. Matt,

      If there are threats locally, they need to be handled seriously, quickly, and publicized. I do not want to have City Council members – or any resident of Edmonds – feeling threatened. If there are issues out there, much like those mentioned during Council comments (the threats) – then those need to be reported to authorities, and specifics need to be put out.

      The community has amazing power to end those threats. As a group, we have heard of these threats – let’s out the people making them. Put them out in the public forum, put what was said in writing, and the community can and will make a difference by letting it be known that we do not associate with nor tolerate that behavior.

      I seriously hope that the threats to our Council members have been reported to the authorities and the Edmonds PD are investigating them as a crime. It’s just that simple.

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      1. This discussion prompted me to ask Edmonds PD if any Edmonds City Councilmembers have filed police reports in the past several months regarding threats they have received, as I certainly would want to do a story about that. Police researched my question and found no reports filed by councilmembers during that time frame. Anyone with additional information should email me at teresa@myedmondsnews.com so I can research further. Thank you. Teresa

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        1. We are the most fortunate people to have Teresa and My Edmonds News reporting news and truth in Edmonds. Investigative reporting extraordinaire!

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        2. Thank you Theresa for clearing that up. It is one thing to say that there are threats or that they feel threatened (I feel threatened by my neighbors dog), it is another to do something about it. Until we speak up, get these into the open, and take action against it, it just is another way to put fear into the community without action.

          If you are being threatened, feel threatened, or are in danger, report it. Report it immediatly. Make our City and County follow up on the issues. Don’t just say something, do something. That is the only way it will ever get fixed with specific and measurable results. Just my two cents.

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        1. Adrienne,

          Can you clarify for us what you meant by the signs in your Council comments tonight The? The spewing hatred? Is it a specific sign, or a political stance you just don’t like. Working together, and action, require specifics, and, yes action (not stealing yard signs that you don’t agree with, but actual decorum and dialogue).

          I would love to know those signs and hatred and threats. It’s a learning process, so give us some specifics.

          Thanks. I think all of the Citizens of Edmonds would benefit from hearing these acts of hatred and vile that is being spewed.

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        2. Adrienne,
          Thank you so much for joining the discussion and informing us that you took action to protect yourself! I’m forever amazed at your courage!

          I don’t know your personal background but I’m a survivor of domestic violence and have been programmed to ignore abuse. That is the only reason I’m alive today as it was a survival tool. I walked on eggshells, took the blame for the abuse and told myself it wasn’t happening. When I did tell people, I wasn’t believed.

          I can’t imagine being in your position and having to sit at council meetings listening to people berate you, under the guise of free speech, and not being able to say anything. You are a stronger woman than myself because I would tell them where they could stick it! I also could not receive multiple emails filled with insults even if they didn’t rise to a criminal standard. You are human and that must be so painful!

          I’m proud of you for notifying the police and I truly hope the commenters on here will show you the compassion you deserve. There are many people in the community who appreciate your service and who agree with your decisions! They are afraid to say that on here but they are with you!

          While elected officials place themselves in this vulnerable position to be publicly criticized, it should never cross the line towards abuse of any kind. I hope I can speak for all citizens when I say, this will not be tolerated!

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    2. It’s hard to say. A Berni campaign staffer ended up shooting up a Congressional baseball practice about the same time I received a couple phone calls, but I didnt put 2 and 2 together at the time. The Larouche Democrats were super active in this area at the time so I guessed it was them. I think elevating threats like these to the papers and such usually encourages this behavior. I also see a lot of hoaxes too, for the purpose of gaining sympathy. Judge every case on its own merits.

      Ultimately ya gotta be brave to put yourself out there politically. Some level of this comes with the territory sadly. It’s more dangerous to be a garbage man.

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    3. Linda, your comment is well stated on this “Letter to the Editor”. Also spot on regarding Twitter, it is not a reliable source of truthful information, it is “disinformation 101”. It represents the new world order of cancel culture, it is to be ignored and not credible, coming out as a “victim” because of anonymous social media is the new pastime. If threatening emails prove true then prosecution should remedy this behavior.

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  3. Cannot the Council persons come forward themselves and turn the emails over to EPD? Are we as a community to be shamed for this accusation that has not shown proof? No thanks Alicia, tell the women who received these threats to come forward, file a complaint so that an investigation can be started. I’m personally in no mood to see our community beaten up with accusations that can simply be revealed and proven or not, with appropriate justice if true. Didn’t we just go through this with our community being called names in the Seattle media? Social Media cuts both ways, to expose yourself to the unfair, distorted, and unproven distortions written daily on FB, Twitter, Instagram is a fools paradise. This social media ship can/will never be righted or set straight. That’s why we have My Edmonds News.

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    1. Linda Mae, you are correct about social media and the lies it perpetuates on our society. So suddenly the council reps are Victims but not coming forward? Emails can be traced. Anyone who is made a “victim” by taking social media seriously needs to hit the “deactivate” button.

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    2. Linda,
      It is unfortunate that this letter leads you to personally feel that our community is being shamed. I read the original letter as a plea to the community to keep things in perspective and stop threatening our policymakers with violence. A plea for reason. A request that we behave civilly…. requests that SHOULD go without saying, but here we are.

      The threats against our officials are entered into public record. If you distrust the officials so much, it is your burden to seek out proof of your alternate reality, not Alicia’s. Luckily, we can walk and chew gum at the same time by letting those investigations take place AND asking people to stop threatening policy makers at the same time.

      Your comment and it’s derailment into social media 101 seems to be about a personal experience you have had with something unrelated to this letter. Hopefully you are able to get that all sorted out. Meanwhile, if you see anyone threatening our city or its people, I do hope you will try to discourage them.

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      1. Christine, What is “unfortunate” is you deriding my right to an opinion. I will tell you what I do have “sorted out”, your often lengthy attacks on those that don’t think as you is truly tiresome, but I do think you have the right to your opinion. You do yours, I’ll do mine; that’s why there is an “ignore” option, thank you.

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        1. Linda Mae,
          I have never ever ONCE in this platform or any other platform expressed any concern over anyone’s RIGHT to their opinions. I cherish and am grateful for all of the ways my neighbors are able to make their opinions known for all to see. What a magical time we live in.

          I only ever hear or see this accusation of “ censorship” from people who are held accountable for their word choices or asked to clarify their opinion. Many people misunderstand how these digital and social platforms work and feel they should be more of a 1-way communication, versus the 2-way dialogue the platforms are designed for. Typically I advise people to get a blog (short for web log) if their intention is to just share their thoughts and not get feedback.

          It is unfortunate that you have applied some other sentiment to my words, because I do take the time choosing my own words so specifically, but I also realize it is just the time we live in that others continue to hear what they want to hear and read into what isn’t written.

          I challenge you to re-read the words Alicia Crank carefully chose in the original letter and ask yourself if perhaps you have read into something that isn’t there, as you have done with me.

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        2. More “word salad” Christine……you have questioned why MEN prints certain comments. We can read just fine, and have a memory.

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        3. Linda has a point. The rhetoric has gotten so far out of hand, the only thing that can be done is to police your own. Social media is relatively trivial. It’s as though Alicia hasn’t been paying attention to more serious things goin on. Statements like calling people “a pack of rich white people” are dehumanizing enough to cause real violence if said often enough and believed by the right people. People are in a tunnel too, piling on without looking at their own house first. It’s a bit like hearing Harry and Markel dump on Trump, while wishing they’d issue a statement on Prince Andrew.

          The original Starbucks was smashed up this week by antifa this week for example. There is a tremendous apatite for real, tangible political violence right now.
          https://nypost.com/2021/01/21/antifa-militants-smash-up-first-starbucks-in-anti-biden-protest/

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        4. Theresa Hernandez,
          I have never questioned why My Edmonds News has published anything. I believe you have me confused with someone else. I’m not clear on what you are seeing as “word salad” either. Perhaps you are confused?

          But while you are here, do you or do you not agree that threats to unelected officials are unacceptable?

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      2. Christine – they need to report it. We should not, as Citizens, just take their word for it. If it is a threat, file a police report, file a complaint, do something. If it is not a threat, then it is not a danger to their safety or well-being. Painting a picture that our town is engaged in threatening Council members throws a bit of shade on the City without being able to take proactive steps. We are all trying to discourage vitriol and encourage decorum. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes more than encouragement to fix the problem.

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        1. Emails are really not Social Media. Emails are also easily forwarded. Case closed. Just reading all of this, everyone’s opinions and accusations, and aggressive speak…I caution you all to…first do no harm. Say no more and don’t antagonize people you shouldn’t in this time of violence. That’s it.

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        2. Just wanted to report the results of my public records request for any police reports filed — from June 1, 2020 to Jan. 27, 2021 — by our City Councilmembers Adrienne Fraley-Monillas, Luke Distelhorst, Kristiana Johnson, Vivian Olson, Susan Paine, Laura Johnson and Diane Buckshnis.

          There was one police report filed during that time frame — on July 17, 2020 — by Councilmember Fraley Monillas, referencing a phone call she received.

          Here’s a copy of the report.

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  4. I could only read the Tweets from supporters of the Seattle Council members. Several of the supporters tweets were making accusations of Seattle Police Department that they”lie and can’t be trusted”, hence the reason the council members are not turning the “threatening” posts into SPD. So there you have it, I think this is called “gaslighting”.
    Facebook, Twitter and the like are great for keeping up with family and friends, but a cancer when used to divide and threaten. In the case of “threatening emails”, they should be investigated, “simple” as George said.
    I suggest you leave social media for more lofty, true entertainment/activities.

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  5. Thank you for your letter Alicia. Violent threats, and especially violent attacks against elected officials and government employees are a serious threat to our Democracy. There is an essential role for us all to play in preventing and condemning threats or acts of violence when we see it.

    Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant are some of the worst of the worst corrupt officials, and they quite literally have blood on their hands from their disastrous policies. However, threats of violence hurts the legitimate opposition to them, and the viability of the recall process against Sawant. Supporters of any cause should know that studies have shown that violence or threats of violence is far more detrimental to a cause than any benefit of intimidation or fear.

    It is good that the SPD is looking into the threats against these councilmembers, and heartening that the SPD is willing to step up and support and protect their community, even though the councilmembers have shown that they are not willing to do the same. Any threats in Edmonds should also be taken just as seriously both by the EPD and the public.

    Nationally we have a major problem with the acceptability of threats of violence. The conspiracy theory movement Qanon advocated for murdering tens of millions of people based on wild conspiracies with no evidence to back it up. On Fox news, I often see commenters calling for the killing of hundreds of thousands in response to anarchist or BLM protest unrest. Even some on the left have called for violence against those who were deemed to support the treasonous attack on our capital.

    I think we primarily need three things to address this:

    – More accountability and transparency from our elected officials
    – More condemnation from the public against calls for violence
    – Investigation and prosecution for those making the threats

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  6. Alicia’s letter clearly states that she personally knows that women on our city council have received threatening emails. Teresa clearly states that MEN has investigated whether or not EPD has received complaints and evidence from council persons and as of this writing they had not as per MEN’s investigation.

    I do not know what to make of this situation. If any council person feels attacked and threatened via an email or social media platform of any sort they should report that event to the local police. Telling an elected official you disagree with and object to their votes and positions on issues is a legitimate form of communication. Verbally abusing them with profanity or threatening physical violence obviously is not and should be reported and addressed by policing agencies.

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  7. Council members emails are public information. Just make a request and you can see them.
    I personally don’t think anyone would send a threatening email to a council member. That wouldn’t be the smartest thing to do.
    It shouldn’t have even been brought up without proof.

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    1. I am trying to avoid FOIA, the staff has plenty of stuff to do. I am hoping that people who are being threatened have the ability and security to report it. I am not a proponent of finger wagging, but where public safety is involved, it will not get fixed unless it is reported and brought to public attention. Totally agree that when a person makes a sweeping general statement about threats, that needs to be followed up with action. Sort of like “the sky is falling” or “crying wolf” – action and transparency and the ability of the City to hold those making the threats accountable (and giving justice to the person who is threatened) are the important points here.

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  8. Three devices that have proven to be dangerous and ones that seem to have made their way into local politics. Hyperbole. Innuendo. Proof surrogate.

    I am not questioning the validity of Alicia’s comments.

    I am questioning the basis and actions that need to be taken to eliminate it from our community.

    Tonight, during Council comments, I was back in my college debate and philosophy class, and was able to hear Hyperbole, innuendo all by a Proof surrogate.

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    1. I am questioning the validity of Alicia’s comments in her letter to the editor. If these council persons in Edmonds or Seattle were conservatives, I doubt that this letter to the editor would have been written. But it was written based on hearsay and innuendo alone; where are the facts, the police reports, the emails? If there are indeed factual threats of harm, then come forward, investigate, prosecute, and find your justice. Until you do, your claims are invalid.

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      1. We are working to track down police reports that have been filed. To all who have commented here — please remember that letters to the editor are opinions, which everyone is entitled to regardless of political persuasion. Our job is to try to sort out what actually happened. — Teresa

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  9. Time for a FOIA request. Super simple. Thank you MEN for doing such a great job reporting. Keep asking quiet parts out loud!!

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  10. I read the police report filed by Ms. Fraley Monillias back in July. Unfortunately, Ms. Fraley Monillias experienced something that was unsettling, scary and not right; the caller was clearly unwell.

    Alicia, your letter sounds as if there are many instances of threatening phone calls and emails to many if not all of the council members. Given what’s been happening, I’m not surprised that people are sending angry emails, but if anyone crosses the line to making threats those need to be documented and reported. Otherwise, it might appear to some that a broad brush is being used to disparage the community.

    Please, to all council members, if you are getting threats from some in the community, report it to the police.

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