Capitol Police are investigating an unsigned letter that appeared in the mailbox of Vermont Speaker of the House Mitzi Johnson, calling for her arrest for “Un-American Activities.”
The note, dated Oct. 4,, called for the arrest of Johnson and unnamed “associates in crime” for “refusing to accept input on public matters from the private citizen of the state.”
Capitol Police Chief Matthew Romei said such communications are not unusual. But he said the department would investigate after law enforcement thwarted a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which also involved calls for her arrest.
“Mainly because of the similarities, few though they are, to the case out in Michigan, we wanted to take a little closer look at this,” Romei said.
Romei says his department is prepared for the usual “uptick” in polarization that occurs near elections. “There’s an election every 2 years, so it does ebb and flow with the national election and local elections,” he said.
Romei says he does not anticipate charges in the case. He says it’s important to note there’s a line between threats and the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
“Honestly and thankfully, that’s how most of these resolve,” he said. “We try to balance the scales as best we can. We certainly want them to communicate to their government, but we don’t want them to threaten or cause alarm.”
Johnson did not respond to a request for comment. A statement from Gov. Phil Scott’s office said he “takes all allegations of threats to public officials seriously and has consistently condemned acts or threats of violence of any kind. Lawmakers have been advised to report any potential threats to law enforcement.”
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