[WATCH] Iowa’s 1st Black Democratic Chair Reports Lynching Threats After Writing Critical Trump Op-Ed
Ross Wilburn, a state representative from Ames, is the first Black chair of the Iowa Democratic Party, and the messages included both racial slurs and threats of lynching.
Wilburn authored an opinion piece titled “Iowa Republicans put loyalty to Trump over helping Iowans,” which the Des Moines Register published on its website on October 8th and in its print edition the following day. The piece was timed ahead of Trump’s rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds, his first trip back to the state since leaving the White House, in Des Moines on October 9th.
Rep. Wilburn told the Register that although he’s become “accustomed” to the hateful comments he’s gotten as an elected official and party leader, “it’s important for people to know that this is not normal and it’s not OK,” Wilburn said in an interview.
“It really has to stop.” The first Black Chair of the Iowa Democratic Party @ross_wilburn describes to @Lawrence receiving multiple racist threats with the n-word, including a lynching threat, just for writing an opinion piece critical of Donald Trump. https://t.co/HUMNPB66Hy pic.twitter.com/6BHpT0n5BK
— The Last Word (@TheLastWord) October 20, 2021
After the essay’s publication, Wilburn said he received two threatening phone messages and one threatening email to his legislative email address, which all made reference to what he wrote in the article. “The voicemails include very explicit language. Every other word was the ‘n-word,’” he said.
BREAKING: Ross Wilburn, the first black chairman of the Democratic Party of Iowa, is receiving lynching threats after writing an editorial critical of President Trump. This is what the Republican party has become. Violent, hateful, and dangerous. They must be defeated.
— Really American 🇺🇸 (@ReallyAmerican1) October 19, 2021
The Des Moines Register reports that Ames Police Commander Jason Tuttle confirmed that his department is investigating the threats, and Story County Attorney Tim Meals said his office has also been made aware of the incidents.
“We can’t control thoughts that people filled with hate have, but when you speak out, when you choose to act in certain ways, that’s when it’s not OK,” said Ross Wilburn, Iowa’s first Black Democratic Party chair. https://t.co/nCIeKXaRDd pic.twitter.com/QjTmeIkKKn
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 19, 2021
Ross Wilburn appeared on “The Last Word” Tuesday night to discuss the threats. Watch his conversation with host Lawrence O’Donnell, below.