An environmental activist group that put chalk messages on a path in Washington Park recently reported threatening social media posts, including a shooting threat, to police, but no charges are being filed, a police captain said.
The shooting threat was written on Nov. 4 on Extinction Rebellion Anacortes’s Facebook page.
The individual’s post threatened to put a “bullet in the head” of someone who put graffiti in the park again. The page administrator responded “you will be reported,” to which the individual replied, in colorful language, that he would stand up for his country and “exterminate” all who would mess with it.
The shooting threat resulted in no charges being filed because the person who wrote it does not have a gun and was not likely to carry it out, Anacortes Police Capt. Dave Floyd said.
The Anacortes American is not naming the person who wrote the threat because no charges were filed.
Extinction Rebellion Anacortes also reported a post written by someone on another social media site. That person wrote that he planned to be at the organization’s meeting Nov. 22 at the Anacortes Public Library with “torch and pitchfork” for a “run ‘em out of town party.” The post was followed by emojis depicting a sword, bomb and dynamite.
A third post was removed before the organization could get a screen capture, but was also reported to police.
According to the police report, leaders of Extinction Rebellion Anacortes notified police of the posts on Nov. 13 and met with an officer about concerns for safety at the Nov. 22 meeting in the Anacortes library. The officer contacted the individual who posted the shooting threat, but was unsuccessful in contacting the others, the report stated.
“(He) informed me he did not have any intent to attend any (Extinction Rebellion) meeting or harm anyone, and that he was just expressing his anger toward a group that he feels is vandalizing public property with graffiti,” the officer reported.
“To be able to charge anybody, there has to be some legitimate potential for (the threat) to be carried out,” Floyd said, and those threatened “have to have a realistic concern that the individual is capable of carrying it out.”
The group was still uneasy the day of the meeting. So group members were posted outside the library to watch for suspicious activity, and child care was offered in another part of the library away from the meeting.
“We were scared,” said one of the group’s leaders, Julia Frisbie of Anacortes.
According to an online bio, Extinction Rebellion “is a global environmental movement with the stated aim of using nonviolent civil disobedience to compel government action to avoid tipping points in the climate system, biodiversity loss, and the risk of social and ecological collapse.”
Frisbie said members of Extinction Rebellion Anacortes have used chalk paint to write environmental messages on sidewalks and paths, but she’s not sure chalking, which washes away, is illegal. Floyd said police would “rather not have the park tagged, but using chalk is not a big deal,” adding that the response by the social media posters “was very overboard.”
Floyd said police advised the man who wrote the shooting threat of other ways to express his views, and Frisbie gave an example of a resident with an opposing view on climate change who attended an Extinction Rebellion Anacortes meeting. She was glad he attended, she said.
“He was polite, and it gave us the opportunity to engage in an exchange of views,” she said.