A 63-year-old man from Missouri is finally in FBI custody after continuing a years-long tradition of threatening legislators with lynching, as well as targeting them with racist and homophobic slurs.
Kenneth Hubert of Marionville, Missouri, is charged with threatening to assault and murder Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Black lawmaker from the state. According to a Washington Post report, Hubert called Cleaver’s office on Jan. 6 and left a voicemail in which he called him the n-word and said the violence happening at the Capitol would be coming Cleaver’s way next. Hubert is also accused of leaving another message the next day saying there should be a noose around the legislator’s neck.
Hubert is also charged with threatening to assault and murder Jewish lawmaker Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.) in a 2019 call to Cohen’s office during which he reportedly told one of the legislator’s staff members that “he has a noose with the congressman’s name on it” and planned to “put a noose around his neck and drag him behind his pickup truck.”
Hubert has pleaded not guilty to the charges, though he apparently admitted to FBI investigators in 2019 that he made the vile call to Cohen’s office because he was upset that the Democrat had criticized Trump and “wanted to respond in kind.” Prosecutors also say that Hubert admitted in January to using a slur against Cleaver and making the threatening reference to a noose.
Hubert’s lawyer argued at a court hearing on Monday that the man should be allowed house arrest, as he is a military veteran who has lived a “law-abiding life,” reports the Kansas City Star.
But the survey says that is a lie.
The Missouri man’s record of alleged threats stretches back years, prosecutors said. According to court documents obtained by The Washington Post, Hubert, a self-described “right-wing nut job,” was investigated by the Secret Service for saying that President Barack Obama “needed to be hanged by a light post.”
He also made harassing and homophobic phone calls in 2014 to a federal judge in Montana over a same-sex marriage ruling, prosecutors allege.
In 2016, he was investigated for inflammatory calls he made to the Council on American-Islamic Relations, according to court documents.
“Pack up your tents and go back to your [expletive] Arab country, that’s if you want to stay alive,” he said in one message to the organization’s St. Louis office, according to authorities. He told the FBI at the time that “the point of the call was to make them worried.”
You’ll note that in all of these disturbing incidents—going as far back as 2014—the FBI was notified about Hubert’s continuing behavior and had multiple conversations with him where they only kept repeating: “Stop doing that.” They continued this hands-off approach in 2019 when Hubert threatened to lynch Cohen, by only telling the man to again “cease” those kinds of communications.
Perhaps the reality of what men like Hubert have proudly and publicly fantasized about doing was brought home, finally, by the deadly Capitol attack. But it’s deeply discomfiting—and telling—that it took a storming of the U.S. Capitol, the injury of numerous law enforcement officers and the death of five people, for federal law enforcement to start taking seriously the threats of violence that come from white supremacists.
Thankfully, the judge who heard the case against Hubert on Monday took the disturbing allegations seriously and ruled that he should remain detained.
“It’s important to note that this man doesn’t live in my congressional district and has never met me,” Cleaver, who was the first Black mayor of Kansas City, said in a statement to the Star. “But then, hate has such bad eyesight that a thrown rock might hit anyone within range. Maybe it’s good that he remain in a place where there are no rocks.”