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Mayor Has Had Threats Before. 'This One Seemed Different'

Retired firefighter arrested after alleged plot to kidnap, murder Brandon Whipple of Wichita, Kan.
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2020 7:27 AM CDT

(Newser) – First Michigan's governor, then Virginia's, and now, the mayor of Kansas' largest city. The link between the three politicians: They've all been alleged targets of kidnapping and murder plots, apparently prompted by their respective lockdown orders and other health protocols during the pandemic. In the case of Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple, the threats against him, sent via text message to a third party who reported them to police, spelled out a gruesome fate. The "very descriptive plan of execution," Whipple said Saturday, included tracking him down and cutting his throat, then hanging him and "turning him into fertilizer," per the New York Times. Whipple tells CNN that the person who sent the messages expressed anger over having to wear face masks, and "anger over ... just COVID in general." Whipple had instituted a citywide face-covering mandate in July.

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Whipple says the suspect, who was also upset because he hadn't been able to visit with his mother because of coronavirus restrictions on homes for the elderly, also asked the third party for the mayor's address, per the Wichita Eagle. Arrested Friday was 59-year-old Meredith Dowty, who was charged with making a criminal threat, per a Wichita Police Department release. Dowty is said to be a retired firefighter who's also known for playing guitar and harmonica on the local music scene. Whipple tells CNN he gets occasional threats, but "this one seemed different." Still, the Democrat is ready to get back to work. "Until I'm voted out or until they're successful in assassinating me, I'm hoping to do what's right for the people of Wichita," he says, per the Times. An investigation is ongoing. Whipple also says he's upping the security detail around his home. (Read more Wichita stories.)

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