SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) — A California man was indicted in connection with making threats to commit anti-LGBTQ violence against Springfield-based company Merriam Webster.
According to the news release sent to 22News by the Department of Justice in Boston, 34-year-old Jeremy David Hanson, of Rossmoor, California, was indicted on one count of interstate communication of threatening communications to commit violence.
“We believe Mr. Hanson, motivated by hate and veiled by the assumed anonymity of the internet, made numerous threats of violence to instill fear in our communities,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “Hateful and bigoted activity, like the conduct alleged here, is destructive on so many levels and will not be tolerated. Every individual has a right to feel safe in their community. My office will continue its relentless pursuit of those who seek to threaten, intimidate and divide us and hold them accountable.”
“Jeremy Hanson is accused of repeatedly making violent threats, motivated by hate, to intimidate others – even going as far as causing Merriam-Webster to shut down its offices for five days out of fear for their employees’ safety,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Threatening violent action strikes at the heart of our fundamental right as Americans to live and work without fear, and this case underscores the FBI’s commitment to ensuring that everyone’s civil rights are protected, and those who try to infringe on them are brought to justice.”
According to the charging documents, between October 2 and October 8, 2021, Springfield-based Merriam-Webster, Inc. received various threatening messages and comments demonstrating bias against specific gender identities submitted through its website’s “Contact Us” page and in the comments section on its webpages that corresponded to the word entries for “Girl” and “Woman.”
Authorities later identified the user as Hanson.
Specifically, it is alleged that on October 2, 2021, Hanson used the handle “@anonYmous” to post the following comment on the dictionary’s website definition of “female”: “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.”
The charge of interstate transmission of threatening communications provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of $250,000.