Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Twitter Death Threats

By Andrew Chow, Esq. on June 06, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker survived a recall vote Tuesday and is now facing death threats, some of which could result in criminal charges, police said.

Wisconsin police agencies and the state's Department of Justice are investigating the Twitter death threats, which were tweeted and shared via social media, Milwaukee's WTMJ-AM reports.

"Scott Walker will die within the next week. I've already payed [sic] for the hit," one death threat said, according to the station.

So when does a social-media death threat become criminal?

State laws specify what types of threats are illegal. In all states, it's generally unlawful to threaten:

  • The use of a deadly weapon on another person,
  • Injury to another's person or property, or
  • Injury to another's reputation.

With regards to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's death threats, Wisconsin law specifically makes it a Class B misdemeanor to use "computerized communication systems" to send a message that "threatens to inflict injury or physical harm" to "any person" or any person's property.

It's also a Class A misdemeanor to harass someone when the harassment "is accompanied by a credible threat that places the victim in reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm."

That means Twitter death threats directed at Walker -- for example, "Ima f--- Scott Walker up. I been wanting to for the longest anyways lowkey" -- may indeed cross the line.

But less specific Twitter threats such as "Scott Walker needs to die," while perhaps in poor taste, likely would not be considered unlawful.

The bottom line: "People cannot assume anonymity via social media while issuing a threat to another's safety or life," a Milwaukee police spokeswoman said in a statement.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's security staff is aware of the death threats against him, his spokesman told WTMJ-AM, but he isn't changing his schedule.

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