Queens Councilman and Majority Leader Jimmy Van Bramer received a death threat this week, while promoting a march on Trump Tower planned for Saturday afternoon. The threat, which his office shared with Gothamist, was sent in response to an email blast about the march addressing a disconnect between President-elect Donald Trump's values, and those of his native Queens. "He may have grown up here, but he's not from here anymore," the protest flier reads.
The threatening email refers to Van Bramer as a "communistic socialist," and mocks his sexuality—Van Bramer is openly gay—ending with a promise to "keep a close eye on your every moves." It reads in full:
700 of your communistic socialists can erase someone's hometown? Where did you get that fucking idea? Rest of the people from Queens do not agree with your homosexual lifestyle, so get the fuck out of this country, you fucking traitor! I will keep a close eye on your every moves so that when it's time to execute traitors, I will try my best so that you name is included in that list of traitors. Execution is the penalty for a traitor, that is the Law Of This Land!
"It's obviously very disturbing," said Van Bramer spokeswoman Arielle Swernoff on Friday. "It's disturbing that they referenced the fact that the council member is gay."
"We're definitely going to proceed tomorrow," she added. "We can't let this stop us. Fighting for what's right is worth it."
Tomorrow's march comes on the heels of a large Queens community meeting on Wednesday. Van Bramer's office, which represents neighborhoods including Long Island City and Astoria, estimates that about 700 people met with representatives from various social justice and civil rights organizations, including Make the Road, Planned Parenthood, the Fortune Society, and Girl Scouts of America. On Friday, Van Bramer Tweeted that he was emboldened.
— Jimmy Van Bramer (@JimmyVanBramer) November 18, 2016
"This is not normal or acceptable, but we will not back down," he added in a statement. "We still plan on marching tomorrow and fighting the racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic demagoguery of Donald Trump."
"I am not scared and I will not back down," he said. "Too many are at such risk. We must all stand up and peacefully resist."
The NYPD is investigating the death threat against Van Bramer, according to his office. Asked if the city will deploy a larger-than-planned police detail at the Saturday march, an NYPD spokesperson said that the detail will be "adequate."
The person who apparently sent Van Bramer the threatening email did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Reports of hate crimes in New York City and across the country have drastically increased in 2016. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors more than 1,500 domestic hate groups, cites Donald Trump's win, as well as a campaign characterized by explicitly racist, sexist and homophobic rhetoric.
Earlier this week, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who is Jewish, found two swastikas etched on a service door to his apartment building, and subsequently blamed Trump's appointment of white nationalist Steve Bannon as chief strategist. The NYPD is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
[Update 4:45 p.m.]: The individual who apparently sent the email to Van Bramer said that it was not a death threat, but rather a reference to federal treason law.