Arthur Ray Hanson II, a Huntsville, Alabama resident, was indicted on October 25 for allegedly making threats against Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Fulton Sheriff Patrick Labat.
These threats are tied to their involvement in the investigation of former President Donald Trump in Georgia.
The indictment shines a light on the ongoing tension and hazards encountered by public officials who are part of sensitive political inquiries. It also raises security concerns for those responsible for law enforcement.
Upcoming Legal Steps
After making an initial court appearance, Hanson will be arraigned in Atlanta on November 13. The alleged threats were explicitly designed to intimidate these officials due to their participation in the Trump investigation.
In his message for the Sheriff, Hanson said: “if you think you gonna take a mugshot of my President Donald Trump and it’s gonna be ok, you gonna find out that after you take that mugshot, some bad [expletive]’s probably gonna happen to you;” and additional comments that included explicit threats against Sheriff Labat.
In Hanson’s message for the District Attorney, he stated: “watch it when you’re going to the car at night, when you’re going into your house, watch everywhere that you’re going.”
Behind the Scenes
These threats were made via voicemails left on the Fulton County Government customer services line. U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan stated that such threats weaken the foundations of society and the justice system.
The FBI is leading the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Bret R. Hobson and Brent Alan Gray are tasked with the prosecution.
“Threats against public servants are not only illegal, but also a threat against our democratic process,” said Keri Farley, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI’s mission is to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. We take this responsibility very seriously.”
This incident contributes to a mounting body of evidence showing an uptick in extremism in the United States, especially post the 2020 election. It serves as a reminder that threats against public officials are indeed illegal.
Since the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, 213 identified cases of political violence have led to at least 39 deaths. A concerning number of Americans appear open to political violence, with over 1 in 5 expressing some level of acceptance towards such acts. This trend has been escalating since 2016, predominantly fueled by right-wing factions.