Police in Columbus, Ohio, as well as Homeland Security, are looking into a concerning Facebook post that called for the death of LGBTI people attending Columbus Pride this weekend.
The comment, posted on a Facebook page dedicated to the event, said ‘I hope this event turns out like the Boston Marathon a few year’s [sic] back. All [LGBTI people] should be killed or at least relocated.’ The original comment contained an anti-LGBTI slur.
The poster, confirmed to be a an employee of the Columbus City school district, refused to explain the reasoning behind the comment.
Columbus City Schools identified the poster as 48-year-old Chris Dodds, who has worked for the school district since 2004.
‘Columbus City Schools values and celebrates its diversity. Please know that we are working with authorities to address this matter and his actions. We do not tolerate discrimination of any kind,’ said Scott Varner, a spokesman for the school district. ‘We are currently working toward Mr. Dodds’ termination.’
However, Sam Shamansky, a Columbus-based defense attorney, believes that Dodds’ post doesn’t quite meet the standards for a legitimate threat, or aggravated menacing, under Ohio state law.
The law for aggravated menacing states: ‘no person shall knowingly cause another to believe that the offender will cause serious physical harm to the person.’
‘Does he chill people from coming to the event? That he certainly does. It’s not menacing,’ Shamansky says. ‘He’s spewing his vile opinion, which the Constitution protects.’
Stonewall Columbus, a sponsor of Columbus Pride, posted a statement on Facebook regarding the threat.
‘Every year, Columbus Pride sees many protesters and hate groups. While their numbers have seriously dwindled over the last 36 years, we are aware that some will return to spread their hate and negative comments,’ the statement reads. ‘We encourage all participants and spectators to IGNORE these protesters. Do not answer their questions, engage in conversations, or pay them any attention. The last thing these protesters want is to be ignored.’
‘We work hard to make Columbus Pride the safest and friendliest Pride in the nation. Stonewall Columbus works with many law enforcement agencies that monitor protest and hate group activity for your protection. You can be certain that our city and our community will be watching. If you see something, say something.’