Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey says she carries a firearm following threats of violence during 2020 election

Sep 8, 2021 at 2:36 pm
click to enlarge Detroit's City Clerk Janice Winfrey is among those election workers and officials that have received threats of violence during the 2020 election. - Rusty Young
Rusty Young
Detroit's City Clerk Janice Winfrey is among those election workers and officials that have received threats of violence during the 2020 election.

Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey is among those U.S. election workers and officials who allege they have received threats of death or violence against them, their families, and, in Winfrey's case, her entire neighborhood, which a disgruntled Donald Trump voter threatened to blow up, according to a new report by Reuters.

The report explored more than 100 violent threats made towards U.S. election workers as a direct result of Trump stoking the fires of misinformation, election fraud, and the unfounded claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. While that may not seem like news, especially in Michigan where election tensions were unnervingly high, the report also found that, of the more than 100 threats reported, only four known arrests were made, resulting in zero convictions.

So, some individuals feel compelled to take defense into their own hands to protect themselves against such possible threats, including Winfrey, who revealed she took firearms training and carries a concealed weapon following an altercation outside of her home in November.

“I never believed in guns before, even living in Detroit,” Winfrey said. “I was afraid for my life.”

Per Reuters, Winfrey says a man waited outside her home and accused her and her office of fixing the election to benefit President Joe Biden. Later, the same man issued a bomb threat via a Facebook message where he threatened to blow up her entire neighborhood block. Winfrey alerted the Detroit police, who took her statement but did not investigate the threats further because, according to police, the man did not wage a threat when he confronted her outside of her home and there is, apparently, no record of the Facebook threat, which Winfrey now says she deleted along with other disturbing, threatening, and harassing messages.

Her family bought her mace and a stun gun, but Winfrey took it one step further: She took firearms training and now has a concealed pistol license and a gun.

“I always have something with me now,” she told Reuters.

All eyes were on Detroit — and Winfrey's efforts — in November as dozens of angry Trump supporters heeded Trump's paranoia and ascended on Detroit's TCF Center, which had been converted into an absentee ballot processing facility, demanding that election workers stop the count because Trump was trailing in the count and, in their eyes, if they stopped the count Trump would stop losing. They also made false claims about widespread voter fraud and taunted reporters and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters. Many tried to force their way into the TCF Center. Some had guns.

“We will not allow anyone to distract us from the job at hand,” Winfrey warned in a statement following the incident. “Our charge is to remain calm, focused, and deliberate as we continue the task at hand.”

Winfrey came under fire earlier this year when it was announced that the city of Detroit would be offering fewer drop boxes — 20 boxes compared to 32 in the 2020 presidential election — as well as fewer satellite locations for voters to return their absentee ballots in primary election. Winfrey defended the decision to limit drop boxes, saying that fewer voters are expected to cast a ballot in the primary election. Only 11% of registered Detroit voters turned out in the primary election. Winfrey garnered 70.4% of the vote and will face Denzel McCampbell, a voting rights advocate and staffer for U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, in November.

Speaking of last month's primary election where residents voted from a narrower field of candidates for mayor, city council, and city clerk — the office that runs Detroit's elections, photos surfaced of signs at Detroit polling locations with the wrong hours of operation on them.
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