In recent months, one California Democrat has become a folk hero in the resistance effort against Donald Trump's presidency — but not without intense pushback from the right. On Monday, a Los Angeles man was sentenced for threatening to kill Maxine Waters over criticism she leveled against the president on a talk radio show.
According to an arrest affidavit, in October, 2017, the man, left a threatening voicemail at Waters' Washington D.C. office. "If you continue to make threats toward the president, you’re going to wind up dead, Maxine, 'cause we’ll kill you," the man, identified as 44-year-old Anthony Scott Lloyd, said. Apparently he also called Waters the N-word, and used an anti-gay slur in his message.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Waters' staff called U.S. Capitol Police, who alerted the FBI. The man admitted to the FBI that he left the voicemail, but also claimed that he never actually intended to harm Waters. He also described himself as a "pro-president supporter." According to the Justice Department, he was arrested on one count of threatening a United States official and later released on $20,000 bail.
In April, he pleaded guilty to his crime, and this week was sentenced to three years probation, as well as six months home detention and 100 hours of community service by U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson. Additionally, he was ordered not to contact Waters through any means.
Ahead of Lloyd's sentencing, Waters wrote a letter arguing against a light sentence, which she said would embolden others to take similar actions. She wrote:
Given the political climate of our country in which passions are inflamed across the political spectrum, I believe we must have effective deterrents within the legal system to discourage threats of violence and intimidation against elected officials.
Waters is known for her straight-talking approach to politics, her history of supporting civil rights, and in the past year and change, for her vehement condemnation of President Trump and his policies. "I think that he is disrespectful of most people," Waters told the HuffPost last April. "He has no respect for other human beings. He lies, he cannot be trusted, I don’t know what it means to sit down with someone like that who you cannot believe one word that they say once you get up by talking to them. I have no trust and no faith in him whatsoever."
In June, after press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was turned away from a Virginia restaurant and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen had her dinner interrupted in Washington — both in protest of their support for the president's family separation policy — Waters encouraged activists to continue the disruption of daily life for Trump aides.
"If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd," she said at a rally in Los Angeles. "And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere."
The president's response to her comments called her an "extraordinarily low-IQ person", and even hinted at a threat, ending with the sentence, "Be careful what you wish for Max!" Shortly after, Waters cancelled two speaking events in Texas and Alabama, as a result of more death threats.
"As the President has continued to lie and falsely claim that I encouraged people to assault his supporters, while also offering a veiled threat that I should 'be careful', even more individuals are leaving (threatening) messages and sending hostile mail to my office," she said in a statement.
Despite the threats, Waters — colloquially known as "Auntie Maxine" — continues to voice her outrage with the same level of veracity. "I am a strong black woman, and I cannot be intimidated. I cannot be undermined," she said in an MSNBC interview last year. "Don’t allow these right-wing talking heads, these dishonorable people, to intimidate you or scare you. Be who you are. Do what you do. And let us get on with discussing the real issues of this country."