A Florida man was sentenced to prison last week for making threats against a Christian ministry based in Tupelo, Mississippi. Despite his written intent last year to “kill every single person” at the organization, Facebook reportedly said his words didn’t constitute a policy violation.
According to a press release from the American Family Association, 21-year-old Chase Davis sent threatening messages last May to a Facebook page linked to the ministry. In his ominous messages, Davis called those associated with AFA “the most disgusting people in America.”
“I have put together a group to have you pieces of [expletive] obliterated into dust,” he wrote. “Yes, I literally mean killing all of you. You people are nothing but disgusting, worn out, and old excuses of human life.”
AFA subsequently reported the Facebook Messenger notes to the social media company “but was told that the threat was not a policy violation.”
Though Facebook’s “community standards” say the Silicon Valley-based tech company protects its users from “hate speech, credible threats, or direct attacks on an individual or a group,” it appears the site refused to act on behalf of AFA in this case.
At the same time, the faith-based organization reported the ominous messages to Facebook, it filed complaints with the U.S. attorney’s office, “which resulted in an investigation by the FBI and a federal grand jury indictment in the Northern District of Mississippi in the summer of 2019.”
Judge Sheri Polster Chappell sentenced Davis to six months behind bars, followed by thee years of court supervision. He was also ordered to “participate in drug and mental health treatment and perform 400 hours of community service in lieu of a fine.”
“AFA is grateful for the protective services provided by our federal law enforcement and court system over this threat to the employees of our organization,” said AFA President Buddy Smith. “AFA will continue to affirm that all persons are individuals of sacred worth and are created by God in His image.”
In his own statement, U.S. Attorney William C. Lamar praised the sentence against Davis, saying, “It is important to protect free speech, but when it crosses the line and becomes threats to harm others on the basis of race, religious beliefs, political affiliations, or other protected reasons, we will use federal laws to hold those individuals accountable for their actions.”