One day, a black activist aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement was announcing his intent to run for City Council in Charlottesville, Va.—and the very next day, he was out. Apparently, for good.
Now, federal prosecutors say they know why the candidate, identified in court papers only as “D.G.,” stepped away from the race: He received a number of violent threats from a white supremacist named Daniel McMahon, the Washington Post reports:
McMahon of Brandon, Fla., was arrested Wednesday and charged with bias-motivated interference with a candidate for elective office, accused of cyberstalking and threatening the candidate to the point that he dropped out of the race, prosecutors said.
Federal authorities say McMahon is also a notorious white supremacist leader known on right-wing, racist online hubs by the alias “Jack Corbin,” with McMahon, according to the indictment, frequently pushing the idea that “white people are superior to members of other racial, ethnic and religious groups,” according to the Post.
McMahon, through his attorney, denied all the charges, according to the Daily Progress.
However, the Progress reports that the story of the black candidate identified as “D.G.” in the indictment correlates to that of activist Don Gathers, a co-founder of the Black Lives Matter chapter in Charlottesville.
Gathers did not comment on the report, but on Jan. 7 of this year, he and another activist announced that they would be running for a City Council seat in Charlottesville, Va. The city was the site of the infamous “Unite the Right,” white supremacist rally and the counterprotest that all ended with a white supremacist mowing down counterprotester Heather Heyer.
The next day, Jan. 8, Gathers announced he would not be running after all, blaming “recurring” health issues, according to the Progress. He said he would resume his campaign, but that day never arrived.
Prosecutors charge McMahon sent the candidate “a slew” of violent threats the night he announced his campaign.
As the Post outlined:
McMahon, 31, allegedly threatened the candidate with violence because he was a black man campaigning for office, causing him “to fear death and serious bodily injury” if he were to go forward with his campaign, prosecutors said.
“As alleged in the indictment, this defendant was motivated by racial animus and used his social-media accounts to threaten and intimidate a potential candidate for elective office,” U.S. Attorney Thomas T. Cullen, of the Western District of Virginia, said in a statement. “Although the First Amendment protects an individual’s right to broadcast hateful views online, it does not give license to threats of violence or bodily harm.”