Man starts short sentence after threatening AFA

Thursday, July 23, 2020
 | 
Steve Jordahl (OneNewsNow.com)

gavel with U.S. flagA man who threatened to kill employees of a Mississippi-based ministry has been sentenced to a short stint in federal prison after pleading guilty.

The U.S. Justice Dept. announced July 21 a federal judge has sentenced Chase Davis, 21, to six months in prison for making online threats against the American Family Association last year.

AFA is the parent organization of American Family News, which operates the OneNewsNow website.     

The threats from Davis came through two back-to-back Facebook posts that explicitly threatened bodily harm to the 130-employee ministry that has been based in Tupelo since the 1970s.

“I am coming to tupelo unexpected with a group of people and we are going to kill every single person who runs your group,” Davis wrote in the first post.

The second post stated:

you are the most disgusting people in america. i have put together a group to have you pieces of [expletive] obliterated into dust. yes, i literally mean killing all of you. you people are nothing but disgusting, warn out, and old excuses of human life.

“The threats that were made against AFA were very serious and leadership took them serious,” says Ed Vitagliano, a vice-president of the ministry. “We wanted to make sure that we protected our employees because nowadays nobody knows how far people will take their hostility towards Christianity.”

AFA began under Rev. Don Wildmon, a United Methodist pastor, to push back against tawdry television shows in the 1970s. The ministry now includes an extensive radio network American Family Radio, American Family Studios, AFA Journal, AFA Foundation, AFA Action, One Million Moms, and Engage.

AFA is also classified as a "hate group" by the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.  

Because the posts were made on Facebook, AFA asked Facebook to take action but was advised the threats did not violate the company’s policies. That reply was appealed to the corporation but the appeal fell on deaf ears.

“We asked Facebook to handle this, and weirdly,” Vitagliano says, “Facebook said that threatening to kill everyone at AFA did not violate its policy.”

AFA then contacted the U.S. Attorney’s Office in nearby Oxford, Miss. which investigated the threats through the FBI which eventually arrested Davis, who lives in Pompano Beach, Florida.

A grand jury indicted Davis in the summer of 2019.

U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell sentenced Davis to six months incarceration, and he was also ordered to undergo court supervision for six months, and undergo drug and mental health treatment.  

He also had to pay $1,440 in restitution for costs AFA incurred to increase security.

“It is important to protect free speech,” U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar said in a statement, “but when it crosses the line and becomes threats to harm others on the basis of race, religious beliefs, political affiliations or other protected reasons, we will use federal laws to hold those individuals accountable for their actions.”

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