A Florida man has been sentenced to six months in prison for threatening to “literally kill” employees of the national conservative Christian non-profit American Family Association in social media messages that Facebook allegedly said did not violate its policies.
Chase Davis, 21, of Pompano Beach, Florida, was sentenced to federal prison last week by U.S. District Judge Sheri Polster Chappell after sending two May 2019 Facebook messages in which he claimed that he and others would kill every person who runs the Mississippi-based AFA.
In addition to incarceration, Davis must also serve 400 hours of community service, pay $1,440 of restitution to AFA for costs it incurred to protect its employees from the threat and will be required to accept mental health treatment, according to Department of Justice. After his sentence is served, Davis will be under court supervision for three years.
“I am coming to Tupelo unexpected with a group of people and we are going to kill every single person that runs your group,” Davis’s May 2019 Facebook messages to the group reads. “I have put together a group to have you… obliterated to dust. Yes, I literally mean killing all of you.”
In a statement, AFA explained that its employees contacted Facebook after receiving the threats. Facebook’s policy does not allow “hate speech, credible threats or direct attacks on an individual or group, content that contains self-harm or excessive violence.”
But the activist organization claims that Facebook deemed the messages it received were not a violation of policy. AFA added that its appeal of Facebook’s decision was unsuccessful.
The threat did prompt immediate reports to federal law enforcement and an FBI investigation was launched. Davis was indicted for criminal threats in the summer of 2019 by a grand jury in the Northern District of Mississippi. He pled guilty to the charges in a Florida federal court.
His guilty plea in Florida was according to a rule that allows a defendant to plead guilty to charges in the district where they reside through an agreement by the parties and the court, according to the Justice Department.
“It is important to protect free speech, but when it crosses the line and becomes threats to harm others on the basis of race, religious beliefs, political affiliations or other protected reasons, we will use Federal laws to hold those individuals accountable for their actions,” U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Mississippi William C. Lamar said in a statement.
The Christian Post reached out to the AFA and Facebook for comment on this story. Responses could not be received by press time.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Blake Fussell