“No public official should be afraid to do their job:” Detroit man convicted of threatening Nessel, Whitmer
Threats against public officials shouldn’t be “just part of the job,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in response to the conviction of a Detroit man who threatened to kill her.
Robert Tesh has been charged with threatening terrorism after threatening to kill Nessel and Governor Gretchen Whitmer last year. Tesh pleaded guilty but was mentally ill in August. He was sentenced by Wayne County Circuit Court to five years probation and must pay $ 1,898 in costs.
In her statement, Nessel acknowledged that as a prosecutor and criminal defense lawyer she had heard countless victim impact statements. However, writing his own gave him a new perspective.
“Although I had hoped I was not in this position myself, their words take on new meaning as I write to you today,” she said.
Nessel went on to describe how Tesh’s threats changed his family dynamic. Nessel’s wife and her two teenage sons were terrified of being in their own home and grew anxious whenever they saw an unknown car pass by, she said.
“My son would go to bed at night, fearing that it would be the night that Mr. Tesh or someone else was threatening to assassinate us,” she said.
In April 2020, Tesh sent “credible threats” to kill the governor and attorney general to an acquaintance via a social media messenger. His arrest a month later was around the time hundreds of protesters converged on the State Capitol against Whitmer and his stay-at-home orders were enacted to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Nessel said she regularly receives death threats. She condemned the “deluge” of threats that hit public officials last year.
“No public official should be afraid to do their job,” she said. “I have always supported the public’s right to disagree and voice that disagreement, it is our First Amendment right as Americans. But when this disagreement crosses the line of a threat of politically motivated violence, it must be continued. “
Nessel went on to say that these threats keep candidates for public office statewide away. Last month, the Kent County health director reported that he was nearly kicked off the road by a citizen who opposed mask warrants and that a president of the Grand Haven school board resigned for harassment from parents.
“Violent threats against public officials erode the very foundations of our democracy – attacking the independence of public officials on both sides of the aisle as well as those in non-partisan positions – by instilling terror of acts of aggression,” Nessel said. “Democracies die when elected officials are intimidated into submitting. “
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