Fulton County Sheriff Steps In Over Threats to Trump Jurors

Investigation is underway after threats directed toward members of grand jury popped up online
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 18, 2023 11:53 AM CDT
Fulton County Sheriff Steps In Over Threats to Trump Jurors
Media vehicles are seen outside the Fulton County Courthouse on Monday in Atlanta.   (AP Photo/Ben Gray)

Earlier this week, reports emerged that threats were being directed online toward members of the Georgia grand jury who opted to indict former President Donald Trump and 18 others over attempts to overturn the 2020 election. Now, the Fulton County Sheriff's Office is stepping in and launching an investigation into those threats, reports the AP. "We take this matter very seriously and are coordinating with our law enforcement partners to respond quickly to any credible threat and to ensure the safety of those individuals who carried out their civic duty," the office of Sheriff Pat Labat said in a statement.

The FBI said in its own statement that it would be cooperating with the sheriff's probe, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Under Georgia law, the names of jurors in criminal and civil cases must be made public, and in this case, their names were included in the indictments; the jury proceedings themselves were kept under wraps. CBS News notes that 26 juror names were listed in the indictment, though three of them had been crossed out.

The reasoning in Georgia and many other states for keeping juror names public is so that defense lawyers have the opportunity to examine the jury makeup and challenge the inclusion of certain jurors. Domestic extremism experts say a "concerted effort" like this that includes online threats toward publicized names, however, could spur real-life violence. "Every time something like this happens you are going to have more or less the same type of reaction," Jon Lewis of the George Washington University Program on Extremism tells the AJC.

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"She knows she is not long for this world," one threat directed toward Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis read in the comments of a post about the indictment by right-wing pundit Charlie Kirk. "There are true believers out there, extremists who want something to attack," says Amy Cooter, research director for Middlebury College's Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism. Cooter adds that it's hard to pry people prone to making these kinds of threats out of the outrage and conspiracy-theory loop they may be stuck in. "When somebody starts down that road, it becomes very difficult to break away from it," she notes. "Paranoia about the government as a whole is going to grow and grow." (More Georgia indictment stories.)

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