'A threat is a threat’: NAACP presses for charges after threatening voicemail

NAACP presses for charges after threatening voicemail

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Leaders with the Richmond Chapter of the NAACP say they will not stop pressing for charges after they received a threatening voicemail.

“Your organization needs to go away - I’m going to do what I can to make sure you go away," the man in the voicemail said.

It was a 32-second message left on the voice mail of the Richmond NAACP that has leaders pushing for action.

“A threat is a threat,” NAACP President JJ Minor said.

Months after the message was found, organizers say they won’t stop until they get answers.

“We are not going to let this go until justice is served,” Minor said.

After it was found, the Richmond Police Department launched an investigation on the offensive message but the Interim Commonwealth Attorney Collette McEachin ultimately decided not to press charges against the man responsible.

“This man might never be convicted of this charge but I think to stop it is not the right thing to do,” NAACP Member Birdie Jamison said.

Members of the NAACP, along with other local civil rights organizations, came together for yet another call to action Wednesday afternoon. Many say they aren’t taking this threat lightly.

“We are foot soldiers. We don’t sit in the office because we are in the streets every single day walking around. There is some level of risk but this has escalated that concern,” Tracey Scott said.

Leaders of the organization say they sat down with McEachin and the police chief in September but say they never got the answers they wanted. Not only are they asking why the decision was made, but they also want city leaders to release the name of the man who made the call.

In an email, McEachin said, “While the message was racist, insulting and morally offensive, it did not meet the necessary elements of a criminal offense.”

“We want to know who he is. He knows who we are but we want to know who he is,” Minor said.

“If he had apologized even then I think it would have gone a long way. Especially, if he didn’t mean it,” Johnson said.

One thing is clear, this group says this will not stop their work in the community.

“I can tell you one thing we are going to do and that’s to continue with our mission,” Johnson said.

Read McEachin’s Full statement below:

The Richmond Police Department conducted a thorough investigation of the August telephone message and referred the investigation to my office to determine whether the person’s message violated any criminal statutes.

Upon listening to the message, and applying the language used in the message to the applicable statutes and case-law, I have determined that---- while the message was racist, insulting and morally offensive---- it did not meet the necessary elements of a criminal offense.

As a Life Member of the NAACP, while I am personally offended and appalled by the phone message, I cannot let my personal feelings guide my public actions as Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Since I have determined that a criminal offense did not occur, I will not provide the name of the person who was the subject of the police investigation to the NAACP or to any other private citizen or organization. When Chief Smith and I met with members of the NAACP Board on September 3, 2019, for over an hour, we let them know that we understood the significance of the NAACP and its mission, and that we take the safety of its members seriously. If the police uncover further information and evidence, I will re-evaluate my decision in light of those new facts.

Finally, I have determined that, while there was no criminal act, there was an “incident” pursuant to Va. Code 52-8.5, “intended to intimidate or harass” the NAACP “because of race, religion or national origin,” and therefore, pursuant to that statute, I will file the appropriate report with the Virginia State Police.

A full transcript of the message can be seen below:

“Yeah, you know what? You’re the racist bunch of people. Your organization needs to go away, and I am going to do what I can to make sure you go away. You are anti-white. You hate whites. And you accuse our president of being racist? Boy, boy, isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black? We’re going to get rid of you. You aren’t needed anymore, OK? I am going to do whatever I can make sure nothing comes to you - funds or anything. You’re a racist bunch of black, useless people.”

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