Alabama man pleads guilty to threatening Fulton County DA Fani Willis

An Alabama man pleaded guilty on Tuesday after threatening Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis and Sheriff Patrick Labat for prosecuting and processing Donald Trump’s election interference charges in Georgia.

The threats against Willis and Labat, who are both Black, are part of a disturbing trend of Trump supporters threatening violence against government officials who’ve been portrayed in conservative media as Trump’s political enemies.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution detailed the threats made by Ray Hanson, a 58-year-old Alabama man, in its report.

Per the AJC: 

At Tuesday’s plea hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Bret Hobson said Hanson called the Fulton County Government customer service line on Aug. 6 — a week before Trump’s indictment — at 11:25 a.m. and first left a voicemail for Labat, which lasted about a minute and a half. ‘If you think you gonna take a mugshot of my President Donald Trump and it’s gonna be ok, you gonna find out that after you take that mugshot, some bad (expletive)’s probably gonna happen to you,’ Hanson said in the voicemail, among other threatening statements. The voicemail also said, ‘I’m warning you right now before you (expletive) up your life and get hurt real bad.’

Hanson didn’t stop there:

Five minutes later, Hanson again called the customer service line and left a voicemail for Willis. ‘I would be very afraid if I were you because you can’t be around people all the time that are going to protect you; there’s going to be moments when you’re going to be vulnerable,’ Hanson said in the message, according to court records. ‘When you charge Trump on that fourth indictment, anytime you’re alone, be looking over your shoulder,’ he continued.

As frightening as these threats sound, it appears Hanson is primed to receive a slap on the wrist. After pleading guilty, claiming he’s “not a violent person” and that he just “made a stupid phone call,” the U.S. attorney assigned to the case has said they’re seeking leniency because Hanson admitted to his crimes.

Willis spoke out last year about the death threats, many of them racist, that she’s received as she’s sought to prosecute Trump on charges of pressuring Georgia officials to overturn the state’s 2020 election results and falsely name him the winner over Joe Biden.

Hanson’s guilty plea is a reminder of the violent threats that face Black officials nationwide. My colleague Clarissa-Jan Lim reported earlier this week on a Texas man who sent racist death threats to California Rep. Maxine Waters, whom conservatives often frame as a major Trump foil. Lim also cites a 2022 report that found women of color are more likely than their white counterparts to face violent threats online.

This disturbing trend is why the National Black Prosecutors Association last year condemned Trump’s claim that it’s “racist” for Black prosecutors like Willis to attempt to hold him accountable. Trump and other Republicans have been grooming their followers to meet Black officials with contempt and mistrust. The violent threats are a natural result of their refusal to stop.