Guilty Plea for Anti-Semitic Death Threats + Odd Link to Transgender YouTuber

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The press release was released yesterday by the Justice Department:

On May 5, William Alexander, 50, of Anchorage, Alaska, entered a guilty plea … to an indictment charging them with one count of making threatening interstate communications and one count of intentionally obstructing and attempting to obstruct persons in the enjoyment of their free exercise of religious beliefs through the threatened use of force.

According to the plea agreement,

The defendant left a voicemail [with the synagogue] stating: "I'm coming for you kikes. You're all gonna pay. Bye bye kikes. Bye bye kikes. I'm gonna kill you all."

Lovely. The maximum sentence authorized under these statutes is apparently six years in prison (five years on the threats charge and one year on the obstruction of free exercise charge) plus up to eight years of probation. But the actual sentence will likely turn on how the Sentencing Guidelines apply, and in particular on the defendant's criminal history; and the parties recommend that the probation be for three years.

I couldn't find many details on the backstory behind the crime, but I noticed that the defendant agreed, as part of his plea deal, to "[r]efrain from associating with, communicating with, watching, searching for, or 'following' on YouTube or any other social media, the media personality known as 'Furry Potato'" during his probation. Furry Potato appears to be a 45-year-old transgender YouTube figure and "First Amendment auditor" named Zhoie Perez.

Among other things, Perez had sued a local trade school for refusing to "address Perez as she, or by other female indicators"; sued a local city government for allegedly mistreating her while she was acting as "a First Amendment auditor and journalist documenting the transgender experience, including … the treatment and mistreatment of transgender people by videotaping and broadcasting her experiences as a transgender woman"; and had been shot by a security guard outside an L.A. synagogue seven months before Alexander's threats, while also apparently engaging in "First Amendment auditing," and in turn sued, also alleging (among other things) discrimination by the security guard based on transgender status (according to a decision by a judge in that case, which remains pending).

The theory of the probation condition is presumably that Perez was somehow a bad influence on Alexander, but I lack further details on that (nor do I know whether the threatened synagogue was the one outside which Perez had been shot).

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  1. Isn’t this something like the plot of “Dog Day Afternoon”?

  2. “William Alexander, 50, of Anchorage, Alaska, entered a guilty plea … to an indictment charging them”

    His name is Legion, for he is plural.

    1. “According to information presented at the guilty plea hearing, on Nov. 1, 2019, while in Anchorage, Alexander used their cellular phone to call a Los Angeles area synagogue. Alexander left a voice message stating that they were going to [….]”

      The DOJ’s press release is consistent about the defendant’s pronouns, although it is not clear who selected those pronouns.

      As a side note, this is further evidence in support of the advice to “never trust a man with two first names”. Assuming Alexander (or is it William?) identifies as a man, anyway.

      1. It may be that he doesn’t — aren’t most synagogues strictly segregated on a male/female basis? Well, I imagine that doesn’t fit well with those who believe in the 57 genders…

        1. Referring to folks by their preferred pronouns? Truly this is the day autonomy died!

          1. There is no evidence here that Alexander, rather than the DOJ’s press-release writer, prefers they/their. If the DOJ chose those pronouns but Alexander prefers he/his, will you criticize Joe Biden’s DOJ for oppressing Alexander by intentionally using the wrong pronouns?

  3. “On May 5, William Alexander, 50, of Anchorage, Alaska, entered a guilty plea … to an indictment charging them”

    He had a mouse in his pocket?

    1. Frog, it’s a frog in them’s pocket, always a frog.

  4. I’m sorry, but six years for words, no matter how vile or threatening, strikes me as excessive.

    1. got a history of using words to make threats, or to interfere with other peoples’ freedom of religious activity? This hitting too close to home? They’re coming for YOU, you know. And all that unrest amongst the white folks you keep promising probably won’t hold them back.

  5. “Alexander admitted committing this act with the intent to obstruct the synagogue’s congregants from enjoying the free exercise of their religious beliefs.”

    As opposed having a meeting of AA, or a rummage sale, or meeting of the local Cub Scout Pack or Boys & Girls Club — all things that my church hosts and I presume Jewish synagogues do as well…

    I don’t know about the Jewish practice, but in my faith we have a Sunday worship service that lasts for about an hour and then a social hour afterward. Or in some cases a 9AM “traditional” worship service which largely attracts older congregants, a social hour and then an 11AM “modern” service for younger congregants. Is the a social hour a religious practice?

    I really don’t see how *one* phone call — one voice mail — to a synagogue some 3,398 miles away *inherently* constitutes an impairment on the right to worship — as opposed to outright intimidation per se. He said that he was going to kill them — kill them per se, not because they were reading the Torah.

    “One of the greatest truths about our nations is that everyone has the right to be free from threats of violence because of their religious beliefs,”

    As opposed to being free from threats of violence in general?!?

    “The defendant’s conviction in this case sends a strong message that hate crimes will not be tolerated in our free society.”

    And that is what is starting to scare me — “hate crime” being such an incredibly fluent concept, often literally drifting over into “thought crime.”

    1. Remember that this is Kristen Clarke saying this — someone who should not have been confirmed to head the Civil Rights Division in the first place.

      If it were Eugene Volokh saying it, I could agree to disagree on a nuance that I wouldn’t make. But this is Kristen Clarke, a radical progressive who has, amongst other things, refused to prosecute the Black Panthers for voter intimidation.

      I worry about her prosecution of “hate” as opposed to “crime.”

    2. “hate crime” being such an incredibly fluent concept, often literally drifting over into “thought crime.”

      Hate crimes have sentence enhancements because they are crimes that have victims beyond the obvious targets of the crime. When you go burn a cross on that one family’s front yard, you send them a message that they should be intimidated, but you also send a message to other people they they should be intimidated, too. THAT’S what makes a “hate crime” a “hate crime”. If you get involved in a road rage incident, it doesn’t matter HOW much you hated being cut off at your freeway exit.

  6. Prof. Volokh is tongue-tied with respect to the events of January 6, but he directs his readers’ attention to this case.

    Carry on, clingers . . .

    1. I don’t see the DOJ getting any guilty pleas on those….

    2. https://ethicsalarms.com/2021/01/06/ethics-observations-on-the-pro-trump-rioting-at-the-capitol/

      First and foremost, anyone who did not condemn all of the George Floyd/Jacob Blake/Breonna Taylor/ Black Lives Matters rioting that took place this summer and fall is ethically estopped from criticizing this episode.

      – Jack Marshall

      That means you.

      1. How does your thesis handle people who decried rioting but supported protest demonstrations that did not involve rioting?

  7. The defendant left a voicemail [with the synagogue] stating: “I’m coming for you kikes. You’re all gonna pay. Bye bye kikes. Bye bye kikes. I’m gonna kill you all.”

    Too bad for him he he didn’t do it at a Palestinian rally. Then he’d have plenty of leftists supporting him. Maybe even a few at the DOJ.

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