Update 10/22/2020: CBS News now reports that the emails in question came from overseas servers based in Estonia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates–and not the Proud Boys. The FBI now believes that those servers were used as relay servers to conceal the true identity of the email sender. The Intelligence Agency also suspects that a foreign entity, likely Russia, is behind the emails as part of an ongoing campaign of misinformation aimed at aiding the Trump Campaign.
The attack on democracy–not to mention human decency–by the far-right group The Proud Boys continues, this time in the state of Florida. Registered Democrats in the state have reported receiving threatening emails from the group, which compel voters to vote Republican or face violent consequences.
Queer rights group Equality Florida reports that a voter–who will remain anonymous for his protection–received an email earlier this week. “We are in possession of all your information,” it reads. “You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on election day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will copy. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.”
Equality Florida reports that the voter in question lives in Alachua County. Similar emails have also been reported in Brevard County.
“This is an outrageous case of voter intimidation just 14 days before the most consequential Presidential election of our lifetimes,” said Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida. “The Proud Boys are among a cohort of dangerous, violent extremist groups who are working overtime to intimidate voters and depress turnout. We’re calling on federal officials to conduct a swift and thorough investigation, identify the source of this intimidation, and put a stop to it. If these emails did originate from the Proud Boys, it would amount to a grave attack on democracy by one of the most prominent hate groups in the country with the goal of helping secure Donald Trump’s re-election. This moment calls for all of us to stand tall in the face of hate, denounce these attempts at intimidation, and demand justice for those trying to exercise the most fundamental right in our country.”
Voter intimidation is an ongoing concern in Florida, one of the nation’s key swing states. Equality Florida also reports on instances of demonstrators playing loud music and blocking parking spaces at polls in St. Petersberg, while Miami police are disciplining an officer for wearing a pro-Trump mask while in uniform patrolling a polling location.
The Proud Boys have been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Recently, the group became the target of queer activism when gay men began hijacking the #proudboys moniker on social media.
Update 10/22/2020: CBS News now reports that the emails in question came from overseas servers based in Estonia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The FBI now speculates that those servers were used as relay servers to conceal the true identity of the email sender. The Intelligence Agency also suspects that a foreign entity, likely Russia, is behind the emails as part of an ongoing campaign of misinformation aimed at aiding the Trump Campaign.