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Rantz: Flyer threatens Snohomish sheriff’s safety, claims he runs armed ‘death squads’

Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney faces a vicious smear campaign purportedly from activists supporting his recall.

A flyer distributed in Snohomish County is calling on activists to “bring your guns” and join a “death squad” in a smear targeting Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney.

Fortney, a well-liked and respected sheriff, has stayed mostly quiet over a politically-motivated recall against him. But he says now he must speak up. He posted a photo of the flyer on his Facebook page.

The over-the-top flyer claims Fortney runs “death squads” where excessive force is “encouraged” against suspects. It’s an activist position dripping with anti-police animus. But more worrisome, it’s a lie intended to inspire violence against the sheriff.

“I had plans for this Saturday afternoon, but instead I will be shopping for a better security system. I hope you recall people are proud,” Fortney said.

Odious flyer puts sheriff at risk

It’s unclear who posted the political flyer, but anti-police activists have amplified their odious messages in the county in the last year. The flyer asks people to “Join Fortney’s Death Squad today!,” and includes a hashtag supporting the recall campaign. It was spotted in Lake Stevens and Snohomish, according to Fortney.

“Even when the recall people got really aggressive and vocal the last couple of months, I chose to stay positioned, work quietly and serve others,” Fortney posted on Facebook. “Although they have crossed several lines during the recall, this one is reprehensible.”

Claiming Fortney runs a death squad isn’t just untrue, it’s disingenuous and dangerous. Under Fortney, there have zero instances of deadly force so far, according to the compilation of investigations by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team.

“My family and I have put up with them for nearly a year now. We are tired. We are exhausted,” Fortney wrote. “Now with these flyers going around our community, my family is scared and fearful. Thank you recall people. You have really outdone yourselves today. Look at this flyer and the message it is sending. This is absolutely disgusting, hateful and every one of you should be ashamed of yourselves.”


Snohomish County Council Chair Nate Nehring finds the flyer instructive of the greater movement to recall Fortney.

“The flyer that was distributed was reprehensible,” Nehring tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Those engaged with these sorts of dishonest tactics ought to be ashamed of themselves. I think when people resort to ad hominem character attacks, it is a clear indication that their underlying effort lacks credibility. That is clearly the case here.”

Many of the efforts to attack police in this region have lacked credibility.

Just last week, a man in Arlington called cops to report a suspicious Black teen with a handgun. But the 911 caller, identified by police as Tamon Leverette, reported himself. Police allege the false report was to “goad” police into a negative interaction with cops.

Consequences to the smear

To be clear, the flyer constitutes protected speech. It also promotes a vicious lie that threatens Fortney’s safety.

If you ridiculously believe he’s running death squads, you may act out in a violent way to stop him from doing more harm. Many within the anti-police movement have already turned to violence; many do not have the temperament or the intellectual honesty to look at this flyer without feeling called to respond with force.

Anti-police activists in Western Washington have routinely turned to violence to express their unsubstantiated anger against police. In Seattle, Antifa thugs used quick-dry cement to seal shut the door to a police precinct, while Desmond David-Pitts, 20, was one of the anti-police activists trying to set the building on fire. Officers were inside at the time.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged David-Pitts, noting he “was communicating with the black-clad individuals who were attempting to disable the door and light other fires around the building.” He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit arson.

In another incident, the son of a former state Democrat lawmaker was charged in planning sophisticated attacks against Seattle police. In a video that went viral, Jacob Greenberg is charged in connection with assault for hitting a police officer in the head with a baseball bat. The officer, thankfully, was wearing a helmet at the time and it protected him from serious harm.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter, Instagram, and Parler and like me on Facebook

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