A man from New York was recently arrested for making a death threat against the Representative John Katko over the net neutrality debate, and it is considered the latest in a string of threats from advocates of the liberal policy.
The Federal Communications Commission chairman – Ajit Pai has also received numerous threats ever since he had announced the agency’s intention earlier this year to repeal the Obama era rules that had expanded federal regulation over the internet.
Katko, who is a Republican and represents upstate New York and has no role whatsoever in the FCC agenda, has received a threatening voicemail from a Patrick Angelo, who had vowed to kill Katko’s family if he went on to support the repealing of net neutrality.
“Listen Mr. Katko, if you support net neutrality, I will support you,” Angelo said, according to a complaint filed in federal court. “But if you don’t support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill… you… all. Do you understand? I will literally find all… of… you and your progeny and just wipe you from the face of the earth.”
Angelo was charged with threatening to kill the U.S. congressman and is now facing up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to intimidate government officials with violent threats, and in particular, efforts to target their families,” said the Chairman Pai. “I would also like to express my sympathy to Congressman Katko and his family and thank law enforcement officials for taking this matter seriously.”
The net neutrality debate has become more heated, with the Chairman Pai reporting this week of threatening signs that are targeting his family. Protest signs of the repeal policy, which Pai had formally released last week, had turned up in his neighborhood naming and targeting his young children. “Dad murdered democracy,” one sign read, and another featured Pai’s children’s names.
“This reminds me of another point, one that has been brought home to me in the past few days,” Pai had said on Tuesday in a statement. “This debate in our culture and our public policy on this and other issues need quality information and not hysteria, because hysteria brings us to unpleasant and dangerous places. We can disagree on policy,” Pai had added. “That is the American way. We shouldn’t demonize, especially when all of us share the same goal of free and open internet.”
Pai’s home has been the target of a pro-net neutrality protests before as well. In May, the alt-left groups involved in violent riots and protests in the past, had targeted Pai’s neighborhood. Organizers were connected to DisruptJ20 and Code Pink had said they were “taking the fight to Pai’s front door,” leaving the leaflets on the doors in Pai’s neighborhood.
An online campaign that was organized by John Oliver are opposing changes to the Obama rules, which for the first time in history had classified internet service providers as the utilities that are subjected to greater regulation, included the numerous racist comments aimed at Pai, and death threats. Oliver had to appeal to his viewers to not leave any racist comments.
Threats and violence have reached some other Republicans too and segments of the Trump administration, as well. Environmental Protection Agency administrator, Scott Pruitt had to have a 24-hour security detail given to the amount of threats he has received.
Pruitt has received almost five times as many threats as his predecessor, including the direct death threats such as, “I’m going to put a bullet in your brain.”
A Tennessee woman had tried to run her Republican congressman off the road for voting for the House bill to repeal the Obamacare earlier this year. James T. Hodgkinson, who is a Bernie Sanders supporter, had shot and severely wounded Representative Steve Scalise and several others after targeting the Republican baseball practice this spring.