Threats Again Michigan Women Leaders Highlight Ongoing Concerns Over Political Violence
A man was arrested last week and accused of posting numerous threats on YouTube, targeting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, as well as FBI agents, President Joe Biden and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Women hold the majority of leadership posts in state government and the legislature in Michigan, and the state has been a hotbed for threats of political violence. Whitmer, a Democrat who was overwhelmingly reelected in November, was the target of a kidnapping plot shortly before the 2020 presidential election. Earlier that year, Nessel and Whitmer were the target of a separate threat online.
Experts on political violence say women, and particularly women of color, are disproportionately impacted by threats of harassment and political violence. Some recent incidents have been linked to election denialism, and others to white supremacist movements, which object to women, people of color and people who are not Christian in public life. What this means for the long-term effects on representative democracy is still unclear, but growing data highlights worrying trends.
Public officials who identify as women or racial or ethnic minorities are more likely to report being insulted, harassed or threatened, according to a survey released in December by the Bridging Divides Initiative, a nonpartisan research effort based out of Princeton University that tracks and mitigates political violence in the United States, and nonprofit group CivicPulse.