Green Bay city leaders receiving threats, police chief says

Published: Jul. 24, 2020 at 12:55 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 24, 2020 at 5:35 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Police Chief Andrew Smith warned the mayor and city council members about threats to city leaders, including himself and the city attorney.

Action 2 News obtained an email from Green Bay’s police chief addressed to alders and Mayor Eric Genrich dated July 22 -- the morning after the city council voted 7-5 to require face masks in indoor, public places in the city (see related story).

“Some appear to be outright threats, others insinuate that some harm will come [to] one or more of us because of our action on that face mask ordinance,” Smith wrote.

Randy Scannell expects the phone calls and emails after six years as the District 7 Alderperson for the City of Green Bay.

“People will get mad and they’ll vent, and that’s fine. I don’t take it personal. Some people will get abusive and try to bully you into their position, and you know, that doesn’t work,” said Scannell.

He never received a death threat until Wednesday.

“It feels incredibly ridiculous that someone feels so strongly about wearing a little cloth over your face in certain social situations that they want to kill me over it,” said Scannell.

While Scannell voted for the ordinance, the threatening emails were sent to all alderpersons regardless of which way they voted.

“I think one of the biggest public health crises we’re having right now is just the way we’re treating one another. We need to get better at this,” said Brian Johnson, District 9 Alderperson for the City of Green Bay. “This virus is not going away. We need to continue to work through this and be unified rather than divide over something as simple as a face mask.”

Smith said police detectives are reviewing threatening emails to determine if any could result in criminal charges and will forward those to the district attorney’s office. He also said they’ll consult with the FBI if necessary.

“I didn’t really realize they would start receiving threats almost immediately after the vote,” said Smith.

City leaders are asked to be aware of their surroundings and forward suspicious emails to the police department.

“Obviously we take these threats very seriously whether it’s an alderperson or anybody else,” said Smith.

There is the possibility of felony charges for the person or people responsible depending on the nature of the threat.

“Most threats like this are intended to intimidate and induce fear. Usually the sender has no specific intent or plan to inflict physical harm. However, in our current political climate and being cognizant of people’s passion on this subject, I urge each of you to be aware of your surroundings and the people you encounter.”

Green Bay’s mask ordinance takes effect Monday, July 27.

Copyright 2020 WBAY. All rights reserved.

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