Heard on All Things Considered

State Rep. Cynthia Johnson Says She Will Not Back Down After Receiving Another Racist and Violent Threat

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Image credit: Courtesy of State Rep. Cynthia Johnson

The Detroit lawmaker, who faced criticism late last year after a video made the rounds on social media, has once again become the target of vitriol.

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State Rep. Cynthia Johnson is both empathetic and defiant after receiving a racist and violent voicemail. 

The Democratic lawmaker from Detroit has been here before. Late last year, Johnson faced criticism — and drew a rebuke from state Republicans — after a heavily edited video made the rounds on conservative media where she responded to death threats she had received. It appeared Johnson was advocating violence against Trump supporters. The full video gave proper context to her statement.  

For a while, things quieted down. But now the threats against her have started again. 

I don’t care who you are, if you do wrong and it’s going to harm people — our people, any people, I’m going to expose you period.” —State Rep. Cynthia Johnson, (D-Detroit)

The voicemail message left this week runs for three minutes and contains many epithets and death threats.   

So enjoy your life while you have it, I guess. I mean, maybe write a will real quick,” the caller said. 

Michigan State Police say they’ve opened an investigation and will not provide any further comment.  

There’s Pain Going on There’

For her part, Johnson says she knows the hate of the woman on the recording likely comes from a deeper place. “There’s pain going on there, but I’m not trying to be her therapist,” she says. 

She adds racists and their language inflict and extend pain to others as well. 

This isn’t the first time Johnson has been the target of vitriol and she doesn’t think it will be the last. But Johnson says nothing has changed. She’ll always speak truth to power. 

I don’t care who you are, if you do wrong and it’s going to harm people — our people, any people, I’m going to expose you period.” 

Johnson is not alone in facing threats in the Legislature. State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), House Democratic Caucus chair and 1st vice chair of the Michigan Legislative Black Caucus, said other representatives, including herself, have been the target of threats. 

It has always been a risk for women, and especially Black women, to take up space in places of power, and [Tuesday’s] disgusting threats against Representative Johnson shows exactly why,” Anthony said in a statement. 

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Russ McNamara, Host, All Things Considered

Russ McNamara is the host of All Things Considered for 101.9 WDET, presenting local news to the station’s loyal listeners. He’s been an avid listener of WDET since he moved to metro Detroit in 2002.


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