No one seemed to notice until a few days after the Brainerd High School yearbooks were passed around. But once it was pointed out, emotions flared across the Minnesota town. On one particular page, the yearbook staff had surveyed students on how they felt about Trump. At the top of the page, one student stated that she “would like to behead him. I do not like him.” That apparent threat got locals riled up.
Scott Baio even tweeted about it.
— John Reinan (@StribGuy) May 19, 2017
The school district has apologized for allowing the quote to go into print and released a statement:
“The administration was previously unaware of the students’ statements in the yearbook. The district does not support or otherwise endorse any disrespectful or politically based statements that are in the yearbook and apologizes for the statements that were included.”
But that doesn’t appear to be enough for local protestors, who are looking for the teacher supervising yearbook production to be fired. “‘I would like to behead him’ is a threat,” local activist Jeff Czeczok told WCCO. “It gives a terrible name to the school.” And if others stand with Czeczok, the district’s apology won’t suffice.
The 15-year-old student who allegedly made the comment, on the other hand, says she was misquoted and was not informed her comment would be put into the yearbook. “I did not mean for it to be put into the yearbook,” she said in an interview with WCCO. She now says she’s scared for her safety. The initial social media postings did not mask her identity.
It is a crime to make a willful threat to the president. In a case stemming back to 2008, a San Diego-area man named Walter Bagdasarian made comments online about wanting to shoot President Barack Obama, calling him various misspellings of the N word. After the Secret Service investigated the man, he was found guilty in 2009 for two counts of a crime where he “knowingly and willfully threaten to kill, kidnap, or inflict bodily harm upon … a major candidate for the office of President or Vice President, or a member of the immediate family of such candidate.” However, the conviction was reversed in 2011, pointing to protection of free speech under the First Amendment.
WCCO reports that the Secret Service is investigating the yearbook message.
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