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Threatening Messages Sent to
"I will personally help to ensure that each and every one of you go right to hell... I am ready to die for what I believe in. I hope you bastards are ready."
This message was sent as an e-mail to the Southern Poverty Law Center office in Montgomery on April 20, 2011.
According to Morris Dees, Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, "Threats like the one above keep me up at night. It's not so much that I worry about my own safety, despite the many plots to kill me. What worries me more is the danger to members of our staff — the dedicated people behind our courtroom victories and our work teaching tolerance in the nation's schools. When racists plot to blow up our building, I'm not the only one at risk of being killed. It's them, too. I can't, in good conscience, put my colleagues in harm's way without making sure we're doing everything within reason to protect them."
"We're targeted because we do more than any other private organization in America to stand up to the radical right," says Morris Dees. "Just last week, we won the appeal of our $1.3 million verdict against a notorious Klan leader. And, our recent work to stop anti-LGBT bullying and to protect immigrants' rights has angered many. My colleagues are in the trenches every day, fighting hate and injustice — and accepting the risk that comes with it."
Morris Dees adds, "Our security consultant, a former CIA agent, tells me that our legal actions "have placed the Center and its personnel in the crosshairs of virulently racist and heavily armed groups."
Southern Poverty Law Center
SPLC Essay: The Anti-Gay Movement
Harassing Mail Sent to Alabama Counselors
"Upon stimulation of the gay gene, physical symptoms rapidly evolve. Subjects develop an odd gait and weakness in tendons amid the wrist. Speech lisps surface and the pinky finger flies askew. One may feel that a sex change operation is in order. The queer eye begins to scan the crowd indiscriminately for potential partners."
Several Alabama counselors (ALCA members) reported having received hate mail from an unidentified sender apparently intent on harassing individuals who are LGBT allies and advocates.
The content of the letter is a rambling and unintelligible tirade against the evils of homosexuality and its pervasive presence in our society. It is ignorant rhetoric trying to pass itself off as a science and history lesson. The general tone is hateful and offensive, littered with biblical references and derogatory terminology. Generally innocuous, and somewhat illiterate, it is mostly nothing more than ignorant drivel.
Based on the profile of the recipients of the hate mail message, the sender seemed to be targeting LPCs in private practice who advertised that their counseling services were available to LGBT persons.
Response to Hate Mail
What would you do if you received hate mail? What is the appropriate and effective response for someone receiving threatening or harassing messages by mail?
If you are a counselor in private practice, and you receive some form of a threatening message, you are advised to consider your response, your course of action, and perhaps an office emergency plan.
If you are the recipient of hate mail, consider the following tips.
-- Save the letter and envelope, touching it as little as possible. It may serve as official evidence of a crime.
-- Contact the postal authorities and file a report.
-- Contact the local area FBI office. This is a federal offense.
-- Contact your local police department. Ask for extra patrols for your office area.
In general, you should be cautious concerning the potential for any kind of threatening behavior from strangers:
-- Be aware of any new clients who give sketchy information and want an appointment.
-- If you are in an office alone, make sure to have an emergency code or signal to your office neighbors indicating that you need assistance.
-- We recommend, whether you are in a school, agency or individual office, that you set up some kind of a warning system. You might use a hidden panic button. Or you might send a text message or make a phone call using a code word or phrase that indicates you are in trouble.
Be prepared, be proactive, and develop an emergency plan just in case an incident does occur.
Hate Crimes Resources
The Trevor Project
Advocates for Youth
Youth Resource: Amplify Your Voice
National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Youth
National Youth Advocacy Coalition
Alabama Safe Schools Coalition
Gay/Lesbian/Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays
Resources for LGBT Youth
SPLC: LGBT Related Legal Rights for Students
I Am Equal
PBS Frontline: Billy Jack Gaither
Remembering Lawrence King
Lawrence King: NY Times Report
Lawrence King Murder: Wikipedia Report
GLAAD: Violence And Bullies
Stop Hate Crimes
Sexual Orientation Hate Crimes & Discrimination
HRC Report: Chronology of Hate Crimes 1998-2002
HRC Report: Decade of Violence
Hate Crimes Archive
News Desk: Beating Not Considered a Hate Crime
All Things Queer: Youth Statistics
Understanding Anti-Gay Violence and Harassment in Schools
Association for Lesbian Gay Bisexual & Transgender Issues in Counseling of Alabama