A Florida man has been charged with making death threats against prominent Democratic officials, including Sen. Cory Booker, and Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, and spewing hateful invective against blacks, Muslims and immigrants in a series of phone calls.
John Kless, 49, of the Fort Lauderdale area, faces up to five years in prison if convicted on charges of making an interstate threat, the Washington Post reports. He was expected to be released Friday on $25,000 bond and weapons he owned had been seized, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida told the Post.
According to the criminal complaint, Kless first called the office of California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell on Tuesday, ranting in a voicemail about gun control, immigration, and 9/11, and telling Swalwell he was “gonna die.”
Kless then made subsequent phone calls to the offices of Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Booker (D-N.J.), authorities said, leaving voicemails in which he ranted about Omar, calling the Minnesota Democrat the pejorative “towel head” and Tlaib “Taliban,” and calling Booker “nigger.”
While death threats against public officials are not unheard of, in the age of Donald Trump, hate crimes are on the rise, researchers have found.
And Omar, one of the first Muslim women to serve in Congress (Tlaib is the other), has been a real target of late for Islamophobic attacks.