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Anti-immigration protesters threaten to kill Obama outside White House
“Don’t snap his neck, you watch him choke to death.”
Few political battles inspire as much heated rhetoric as immigration reform. Whether you think the government is being unimaginably cruel to young migrants or unbelievably tolerant of job-stealing foreigners, you probably have strong words for decision-makers in Washington and the people who disagree with you.
Rarely, however, does the debate over immigration get as virulently racist just steps from President Barack Obama‘s residence and office as it did in recent days. The website Right Wing Watch captured video of anti-immigration activists lobbing insults and deadly threats across the fence separating the White House from the public lawn to its north.
“Hang the lying Kenyan traitor!” shouted one anti-immigration protester.
“We’ve got the rope,” said another.
These threats were fairly tame compared to what came later, when one person suggested, “Don’t snap his neck, you watch him choke to death.”
Apocalyptic religious beliefs also played a strong role in informing the demonstrators’ attitudes. Obama, said one protester, is “just biding his time until Satan takes him home to where he belongs.”
Another protester’s comment epitomized the pseudo-white-nationalist attitudes of many hard-line immigration-reform opponents: “Whatever happened to those good ol’ days?”
These patriotic defenders of the “real America” might be interested to know that their violent, bigoted remarks arguably constituted Class D felonies under Title 18, Section 871 of the United States Code.
According to the U.S. Code, anyone who “knowingly and willfully” makes a threat “to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States” should be punished by between five and ten years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.
Of course, if Section 871 were ever applied to the Internet, Twitter would lose a quarter of its active users.
Eric Geller is a politics reporter who focuses on cybersecurity, surveillance, encryption, and privacy. A former staff writer at the Daily Dot, Geller joined Politico in June 2016, where he's focused on policymaking at the White House, the Justice Department, the State Department, and the Commerce Department.