Jacob Candelaria, an openly-gay, New Mexico state senator living in Albuquerque, has fled the city, along with his husband, after receiving hate-filled voice messages threatening to get him out, “one way or another.”
Candelaria says he doesn’t feel safe and is horrified by how authorities do not appear to be taking the threats seriously.
Candelaria is an attorney and has served as a Democratic state senator for New Mexico’s 26th District since 2012. He took part in a TV news report on Saturday in which he criticized people for gathering without face masks at a protest outside the State Capitol.
He subsequently received a series of threatening voice messages from around 10 pm Saturday onwards. Candelaria, who is of Mexican heritage, posted a couple of clips to Twitter.
In one, a caller says, “You don’t even know what it means to be American. You’re one stupid motherfucker and we’re going to get you out, one way or another. Fuck you.”
In another, a caller used homophobic slurs, calling Candelaria a “dick-sucking, piece of shit, Democrat.”
Candelaria and his husband were shocked and alarmed by the calls, particularly in light of the recent arrest of men who had plotted to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. However, after contacting the police at around 2 am Sunday, Candelaria says he and his husband had to wait 13 hours for law enforcement officers to show up.
They say the state police questioned whether the calls could be taken as a threat.
“The state police came to my house 13 hours later,” said Candelaria on Twitter. “I played these tapes, their response was to yell and my husband and I for being upset. When I asked if they thought this was a threat, they said ‘meh, depends how you hear it.’”
Candelaria says the phone number of one of the callers was traced, via a private investigator, back to a man who has an open arrest warrant and “an extensive criminal history.”
I repeat, we have been provided NO protection by law enforcement since this happened. We’ve made 32 calls. Our only choice now is to leave the city until @MayorKeller @GovMLG promise this man will be arrested on his open warrants
— jacobcandelaria (@SenCandelaria) October 25, 2020
State Police spokesman Mark Soriano told Associated Press on Sunday the agency’s investigations bureau is actively handling Candelaria’s complaint of threats. He said the initial response by State Police personnel is also being reviewed.
Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for the Albuquerque Police Department, said periodic surveillance of the senator’s home was taking place, following Candelaria’s 911 call. He said State Police are leading the investigation.
Candelaria and his husband have now left Albuquerque and are staying with family.
“I have no idea how I can keep my family safe right now other than leave,” he said. “They do not have the right to make death threats like this and have it go unaccountable.”
Candelaria told Queerty that state police informed him there was no budget to offer him protection.
“The governor refuses to authorize protection for me and my husband,” Candelaria said. “That there’s no money to protect us. We’re numb. We spent the whole day trying to convince the governor’s office, APD and state police to care. At no point has our safety been the primary concern.
“We’re terrified and have been made to feel as if we should be grateful for the bare minimum that’s been done.
“I’ve pleaded to the governor directly and she has ignored me and my husband. Law enforcement has completely stopped communicating with us. We are going to have to pay for our own security because the governor and state police have declined our request for protection until this investigation is complete. We’re not in any way satisfied with what little investigation has happened to this point.”
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Candelaria said the phone threats, and lack of response, had kept him awake at night.
“No-one is taking this seriously. But then again we’re just two gay guys. And I’m Mexican. So who cares in America anymore.”
On Facebook, Candelaria said, “Next time I’ll make sure to wait until I’m shot before I call to report a death threat and seek the help of the Governor, State Police, APD, or the Mayor of Albuquerque. Apparently, that’s what it takes for someone to take what happened to our family seriously.”
Queerty has contacted the office of New Mexico Governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, for comment.