West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tem John Erickson received a death threat Monday morning. A text message sent to his personal phone number at 3:30am calls him a homophobic slur and makes reference to a noose around his neck. He shared the post on his social media.
“Hey John F*gg a noose would look great around your neck,” reads the text. He says it’s one of many that he’s received since he was elected to City Council. However, unlike the previous threats, he decided to share this latest one with the public.
In an interview with WEHO TIMES, the Mayor Pro Tem discussed how these threats are no joke, how hate inspires hate and how we must all be vigilant to stay safe.
First off, it’s against the law to make these threats, correct?
It’s very much against the law. This is a serious death threat. It’s harassment. It’s also a hate crime, because of the wording that they chose to use. There’s a lot of stuff here.
Do you have any idea who sent the hate text?
No. I have no clue. This is probably the fifth or sixth one that I have gotten. The sheriffs investigate and try to figure out if I know the phone number. It takes a very long time and most of the times things don’t show up.
So the threats started after you got elected?
Yes. I got one the morning of the Q Club shooting. That one was really serious. That one said something like ‘we see you around the bars of West Hollywood and we’re going to shoot you.’
Do you take all the threats seriously?
Yes, I take all of these threats very seriously. This last one was sent to my personal cell phone number. It’s not my campaign number that is listed in my website. They either had to see my business card, saw it in a personal email, or something like that. We are local and in person here, so someone could cause one of us great harm.
What do you think triggered this latest threat?
I think this is something that’s a result of increased hate in media, misinformation, and frankly, all the rampant homophobia that’s out in our country, as well as here locally.
You just had a meet and greet at Plummer Park this weekend, correct?
Yes. Somebody can walk right up to the park and shoot me. It’s scary.
Do your colleagues get similar threats?
I’m not the only one. I know Mayor Sepi [Shyne] has gotten them. I know Linsey [Horvath] got them when she was in city council. I’m sure other of my colleagues have gotten them. I don’t know about Chelsea [Byers]. That’s why when people say horrible things that are very wrong, it has serious consequences. I don’t want this to be the case, but sometimes I wonder if it will take this rhetoric to get someone seriously hurt for it to stop. These are the questions I have to ask other people when they say awful things and act horribly.
How do you psych yourself out it and face the world every day?
The work has to get done. I have to get back up and do the work of the city and make sure I’m putting up positive messages. Yes, it’s very scary. My parents don’t like the fact that this happens in this world that we live in, but I have a duty to make sure I’m serving the people of West Hollywood. When I’m fighting for causes I believe in the most, it helps me be a little less scared.
Why did you decide to share this on social media this morning?
Because a lot of people don’t believe when we say that we get really credible and serious threats sent directly to our phones. They might think that we’re lying, or that we’re blowing things out of proportion, so I just wanted to share with the public that I may be a local West Hollywood City Council member, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not subjected to be the victim of a serious crime. I want every one of my colleagues around the country as well as here locally to be safe. And it’s just another reminder to be vigilant at all times. There are some really, really disturbed people in this world right now. Sadly some of them are in our own backyards and we all have to do what we need to do to stay safe.