Self-Proclaimed 'Proud Boy' Threatened To Bomb North Dakota Polling Station
A self-proclaimed Proud Boy has been arrested in North Dakota after threatening to bomb a polling station.
According to police, 33-year-old Anthony A. Raymond of Dickinson, North Dakota, sent an email on Wednedsday to a local newspaper, The Dickinson Press, stating "I will blow up the voting location in Stark Co.," that was signed "The Proud Boys." Police traced the email back to Raymond through his IP address, and he was swiftly arrested and incarcerated. Raymond now faces a C-felony for the crime.
Via the Grand Forks Herald:
"I think this is an isolated incident and we don't believe that anyone is in any immediate danger and can safely vote at any of the various polling locations located in Stark County or other jurisdictions within North Dakota and feel safe to be able to cast their vote," Cianni said. "This should not (prevent) them from feeling safe or casting their vote."
The investigation is still ongoing as police sift through video surveillance footage, Cianni said, adding that Raymond is facing a C-Felony charge, and the courts will decide how to pursue the matter predicated on Raymond's criminal record.
"I really don't know why people do some of the things they do. Some of them have some issues going on in their lives and mental health disabilities. There's such a variety of things which causes people to commit crimes that I can't really pin it down," he said. "... It could be as bad as someone having a bad day and frustrated with what's been occurring throughout the day or throughout the week."
The Proud Boys, of course, are a violent far-right "Western Chauvinist" street gang founded by Gavin McInnes. Usually, they just show up at liberal protests to start shit with people, but more recently have joined up with Neo-Nazis to watch polling stations for Donald Trump. Additionally, voters in both Alaska and Florida recently reported getting threatening emails demanding they vote for Trump from the "firstname.lastname@example.org" account. Proud Boy leaders claim to have had nothing to do with the email, which read:
We are in possession of all your information. You are currently registered as a Democrat, and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you. Good luck.
As for Raymond, it's not clear what actual affiliation he has with The Proud Boys — and as sick as those motherfuckers are, something is off here.
Raymond's social media imprint, rather than being typical of the kind of person who might join a super wacky right-wing street gang, is what you might call "politically confused." He's not particularly pro or anti Trump. There are pro-police memes, there are pro-Black Lives Matter memes, and then there are anti-Black Lives Matter memes coming after the pro-Black Lives Matter memes. It's truly like he's just throwing spaghetti up against a wall to see if it sticks.
There is also one #SaveTheChildren meme.
There are just a lot of memes and most of them are not political at all. I would say the vast majority are just cringe-inducingly corny — either bad jokes or the kind of #blessed motivational quotes one would traditionally find on Pinterest. There's a lot of "2020 is bad!" and "I love animals" memes. There are also a lot of "The next 12 people to like this post are my super cool best friends who will be invited to my post-corona party!" type posts ... with zero likes. It reads to me, personally, like he was just posting pretty much any meme he saw hoping to get interactions from other people, regardless of their content. He also had several posts mentioning "mental health" and "mental health awareness," that did not get too specific.
He also had a post about having already voted. He did not have any posts mentioning the Proud Boys. His last post before being arrested was a cat meme.
It is entirely possible that he is, indeed, affiliated with The Proud Boys and that he, for some reason, thought it would make sense to threaten to bomb a polling station in a state that is definitely going to Trump no matter what, but it is equally possible that this is just a guy with some very serious issues who just wanted to belong to a club, any club.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse