Police officers in North Dakota arrested a self-proclaimed “Proud Boy” on Wednesday after he allegedly threatened to blow up an election site.
Dickinson Police Department officers arrested Anthony Raymond, 33, on terrorist charges. Raymond allegedly sent an e-mail to The Dickinson Press, a local newspaper, this afternoon in which he submitted a bomb threat targeting a Stark County polling station, according to a post on the department’s Facebook page.
The anonymous e-mail said, “I’m going to blow up the polling station in Stark Co.,” and, according to The Dickinson Press, was signed by “The Proud Boys. The Proud Boys” claim to be a fraternal group of “Western chauvinists” whose mission, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), is to spread an agenda of “anti-political correctness” and “anti-white guilt.
While the organization has tried to distance itself from links to the extreme right, the actions of its members over the years have sometimes proven to be contrary, as documented by the SPLC. The “Proud Boys” appeared at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, alongside white racist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.
Members of the group frequently appeared at Black Live’s Matter protests over the summer and were often accused of inciting violence. During the first presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden, the debate’s moderator, Chris Wallace, asked Trump if he was prepared to condemn white racists and tell militia groups to “back off. The president replied that the Proud Boys should “stand down and be ready,” a comment that many called a call to arms.
Gavin McInnes, the group’s founder, told the New York Times in September that there was no “kind of secret standing army” of Proud Boys and militiamen waiting for Trump’s order to engage in street fighting. But if the violent protests continue throughout the country, he said, “Ordinary Americans will finally say, ‘We’re tired of you burning down our cities,’ and they will begin to strike back.
After being notified by e-mail, officers from Dickinson’s investigation team traced the source, determined an IP address for the computer, and finally located and arrested Raymond without incident.
Dickinson Police Sgt. Joe Cianni told Tekk.tv that Raymond’s alleged threat should not prevent anyone from feeling safe or casting their vote.
“This is really an isolated incident that is related to a serious error in a person’s judgment. We certainly have no reason to believe that anyone was (or is) in immediate danger,” he wrote in an email. “It is really and definitely safe to vote at any of the various polling stations in Stark County and all other jurisdictions in the state of North Dakota.
The investigation is underway, and officials are working their way through video surveillance footage, Cianni said. Raymond remains at the Southwest Multi-County Correctional Center where he is awaiting a bail hearing.
Cianni described Raymond as a “mentally retarded resident of Dickinson,” who is not believed to be connected in any way with the Proud Boys.
Raymond is found guilty of a terrorist attack when the prosecution states that he intended to “frighten another human being for the safety of man or another human being” by threatening to “commit any violent crime or act dangerous to human life” or “falsely informing another that a situation dangerous to human life … knowing that the information is false,” according to the North Dakota Century Code.
The crime is considered a Class C felony in North Dakota, punishable by up to five years in prison and up to $5,000 fine. Cianni speculated on the motive behind Raymond’s actions and told the press that he did not know “why people do some of the things they do.
“Some of them have some problems in their lives and mental disabilities. There is such a variety of things that cause people to commit crimes that I can’t really put my finger on it,” he said, adding that it could amount to someone having a bad day and “being frustrated with what’s happening all day or all week.
The reported bomb threat comes amid growing concerns that the US may experience increased levels of violence in connection with the upcoming election. According to a recent USA Today/Suffolk University survey, three out of four respondents said they were concerned about the possibility of violence on election day and beyond.
This represents a significant shift from October 2016, when voters were asked the same question in the survey. At that time, almost half of Americans (47 percent) indicated that they had little or no concern about violence around the election.
This month, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), in collaboration with MilitaWatch, published a report describing the potential of certain locations in the United States for organized militia activities before, during and after the election.
The two groups attributed recent militia activity to an increase in social justice activism and public health restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Of the militias that were persecuted throughout the study, ACLED reported that the majority were right-wing armed groups, including the Proud Boys.
“The Proud Boys are developing into a more militant organization,” the report said. “Groups of young men are increasingly showing up at Proud Boys events with guns and plate bearers”.