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Write a poem, go to jail

by Charles Platt

The text of the poem is circulating freely online, so, here it is:


As the tyrant enters his cross hairs the breath he takes is deep
His focus is square on the target as he begins to release
A patriot for his people he knows this shot will cost his life
But for his race and their existence it is a small sacrifice

The bullet that he has chambered is one of the purest pride
And the inscription on the casing reads DIE negro DIE
He breathes out as he pulls the trigger releasing all his hate
And a smile appears upon his face as he seals that monkeys fate

The bullet screams toward its mark bringing with it death
And where there was once a face there is nothing left
Two blood covered agents stare in horror and dismay
Looking down toward the ground where their president now lay

Now the screams of one old negro broad pierces thru the air
Setting off panic from every eyewitness that was there
And among all the confusion the hero calmly slips away
Laughing for he knows there will be another negro holiday

By Johnny Spencer

Mr. Spencer is now serving 33 months and will have 3 years of supervision after completing his sentence. (source)

The question in such cases, as I understand it, is whether this was a “credible threat.” Since the poem had been posted two years previously, and nothing happened on that occasion, that alone suggests that it should not have been taken unduly seriously.

The term credible threat means a threat that is “real and immediate, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Kegler v. United States DOJ, 436 F. Supp. 2d 1204, 1212 (D. Wyo. 2006). The poem sounds quite hypothetical to me, containing no details whatsoever of how the threat was supposed to be carried out, when, or where.

Under California law, I find “Credible threat of violence” is a knowing and willful statement or course of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear for his or her safety…” and I believe other states have similarly worded statutes. Does a gun fantasy on a web site by an obscure white supremacist cause the President of the United States to fear for his safety?

Of course the guy in this case pleaded guilty. Presumably his attorney advised him to do so. The news reports don’t mention a plea bargain, but I’m betting there was one.

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