Man Who Threatened Gov. Whitmer’s Life Has Been Charged With Terrorism

This undated booking photo provided by the Detroit Police Public Safety Office shows Robert Tesh, 32, who has been charged with terrorism for making credible death threats against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy said Friday, May 15, 2020, that Tesh made the threats via social media to an acquaintance on April 14. (Detroit Police Public Safety Office via AP)

By Katelyn Kivel

May 18, 2020

If convicted of the felony charge, he faces up to 20 years in prison. 

DETROIT, MI — A Detroit man faces terrorism charges for threats to Michigan’s governor and attorney general.

There has been no shortage of violent rhetoric against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer stemming from protections she put in place to stem the tide of the novel coronavirus. As The ‘Gander reported, the thoroughly odd “Judgment Day” protests Thursday featured a candidate for Michigan’s legislature carrying a doll with a passing resemblance to the governor hanging on a noose suspended from an American flag. 

This was indicative of a wider range of threats against the governor reported on by the Metro Times. But none of these threats elevated to the point that police found them credible — that is to say, expressive of a genuine intent to kill Whitmer — until Robert Tesh

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On Friday, it was announced that 32-year-old Robert Tesh has been charged with false report of a threat of terrorism. Under Michigan law, the “false report” class of terrorist threat doesn’t allow a defendant to argue they lacked the capacity to actually follow through on the threat. If convicted of this felony, Tesh faces up to 20 years in prison.

Tesh’s arrest stems from posts on social media in mid-April, reports the Independent. April 14, Tesh sent messages to an acquaintance on social media threatening the lives of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel. 

“The alleged facts, in this case, layout a very disturbing scenario,” said Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy in a statement. “We understand that these times can be stressful and upsetting for many people. But we will not and cannot tolerate threats like these against any public official who are carrying out their duties as efficiently as they can.”

Prosecutors have not given specifics about what social media platform was used or the nature of the threats he made against the state’s leaders. 

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Tesh has posted bail and has been released outfitted with a GPS tether. Preliminary hearings begin June 3. The probable cause hearing June 3 will be before Judge Kenyetta Stanford-Jones.

“You can disagree with their positions or their methodology, but you absolutely cannot act as this defendant allegedly acted or you will be charged criminally,” said Worthy.

Violent rhetoric has been rising as the tensions brought by a series of protests to Lansing come to a steady boil. Leading up to the protests last Thursday, one protester described the movement as counting to three before mass violence would happen, Newsweek reported.

“We haven’t had any bloodshed yet, but the populous [sic] is counting to three, and the other day was two,” one member wrote in a Facebook group after the American Patriot Rally April 30. “Next comes watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.”

Between Tesh’s credible threats and the rampant and increasingly violent rhetoric in Lansing, Michigan’s protesters have been increasingly classified as domestic terrorists by commentators. Notable among those voices is a former presidential candidate and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.

“Armed men storming a legislature to disrupt its democratic proceedings is domestic terrorism,” Clinton tweeted. “It cannot be tolerated.”

Clinton linked her tweet to an article about the Michigan Legislature deciding to recess and close the Capitol Building for May 14 protests rather than repeat the April 30 protests where armed gunmen stormed the building and demanded access to legislators, some of who had worn bulletproof vests. 




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