SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WBZ NewsRadio) — According to officials, a California man sent threats across the United States to Merriam-Webster in Springfield, allegedly targeted to evoke fear in the LGBTQ community.
The United States Attorney's Office District of Massachusetts said in a statement that 34-year-old Jeremy Hanson of Rossmoor, CA, was arrested on April 20 and charged with one count of interstate communication of threats to commit violence. Officials say that Hanson was released on conditions following his initial appearance in federal court.
Officials alleged that Hanson used the handle "@anonYmous" to post a comment on the dictionary's website definition of the word "female." Police say that post read, "It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda. There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”
Hanson also allegedly sent numerous threats to Merriam-Webster through their "Contact Us" page, with language that called for their headquarters to be bombed and all of their employees shot and killed. Following the threats made in October of 2021, Merriam-Webster closed their Springfield and New York City offices for about five business days.
"Hate-filled threats and intimidations have no place in our society,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins, “We believe Hanson sent a multitude of anonymous threatening and despicable messages related to the LGBTQ community. My office and our law enforcement partners will not tolerate threats against members of our communities, no matter what corner of the internet they’re sent from."
“Everyone has a right to express their opinion, but repeatedly threatening to kill people, as has been alleged, takes it to a new level. Threats to life are most certainly not protected speech and they cause real fear in victims," said Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Division Joseph Bonavolonta.
Officials say police investigation revealed that multiple related threats were also made to the American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International, Land O’ Lakes, Hasbro, Inc., IGN Entertainment, the President of the University of North Texas, two professors at Loyola Marymount University and a New York City rabbi.
WBZ's Drew Moholland (@DrewWBZ) reports.