Online Threats Against Linda Sarsour Prompt NYPD Investigation

By Sameer Rao Feb 22, 2017

The New York Police Department’s (NYPD) Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating a Facebook threat made against Palestinian-American activist Linda Sarsour.

Unidentified NYPD officials told the New York Daily News yesterday (February 21) that the task force opened an inquiry into the threats, which were made Friday (February 17) on a post in the Facebook group, "Bay Ridge Talk." The post referenced Sarsour’s comments on President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and linked to an article from The Washington Free Beacon Press which quoted her as calling the two heads of state "bigoted peas in a hateful pod."

"This bitch is in Brooklyn, anyone know where?" wrote Facebook user Glenn Maccioli. "I’d like to spit in her face…" 

After others listed prospective locations for her address, Maccioli wrote, "If I get the address, I’ll tell you all, where and when, that’s my word." Another users listed "5th avenue at Ovington Avenue" as her office location. The Arab American Association of New York (AAANY), where she used to work as executive director, is located at that intersection.

The Daily News said that Sarsour forwarded the threats to the NYPD the same day they were made. She did not address them on her Twitter or Facebook feeds, nor did she respond to Colorlines’ email request for comment by press time. 

Maccioli posted again on the comment thread yesterday (February 21), appearing to walk back his threats:

It’s call venting, letting off some Steam, at the end of the day no harm has come her way, on my behalf, please, I’ve been a model citizen for many years of my life, and I am an American born and raised here as my parents before me, I believe in the American Spirit, I’m a good man, I’m a good dad, I’m a good brother, I’m a good uncle, and above all things I’m a good human being, I do feel sorry for the ones that want to manipulate the system, , it is sad..

The threats came four days before the Brooklyn Daily Eagle reported Sarsour’s resignation from the AAANY. "We are in a critical moment as a country and I feel compelled to focus my energy on the national level and building the capacity of the progressive movement," she explained about her departure in a letter to supporters. Sarsour, who co-organized the Women’s March on Washington last month, did not say if the resignation was linked to threats that identified the AAANY’s offices.

Sarsour, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, faced accusations of supporting Sharia law and Hamas from conservative websites and social media users after speaking at the Women’s March on Washington.