[mkdf_dropcaps type=”square” color=”white” background_color=”red”]J[/mkdf_dropcaps]ust four months into his term of office as the country’s first-ever Muslim chairperson of a state political party, Faisal Gill has become the bullseye of an purported hate crime.
Faisal Gill, who took over as chairman of the Vermont Democratic Party last March 2017, received a total of three threatening emails within a week in May.
The emails, apparently sent by 48-year-old Christopher Hayden of Burlington, are bombarded with racial and religious monikers, and call Faisal Gill an “agent for creeping sharia law” who should “get out [of Vermont] or we will make you wish you did.”
“I want to terminate my registration as a Democrat,” Christopher Hayden by all accounts wrote on May 24. “You make me sick. I want you out of my state you freak.”
Gill, who migrated to the United States of America from Pakistan when he was 8-year-old, said that the first email was “disconcerting, but it didn’t worry me.”
When the second and third emails came within hours of each other on the following week, Gill said that he opted that it was time to call a law enforcement authorities in Burlington and Montpelier, where the Vermont Democratic Party headquarters are situated.
“The second one it did worry me, because it was much more hateful, and at this point I didn’t know what this guy was talking about, who this person was,” Gill stressed out. “The subject line was extremely offensive and he was telling me to get out, go quietly, last chance, so that really concerned me.”
The third hateful message included the most explicit threat of violence, reads, “Get out now. Last chance. Do it quietly. But get out of my Green Mountains.”
Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George validated on Friday,, July 7, that Christopher Hayden has been charged with disturbing the peace by electronic medium, with a hate crime enhancement. The alleged crime is still a felony, however Hayden, who has a long criminal record, is facing an additional two years in prison – on top of the three-month maximum for disturbing the peace – as a result of the enhanced charge.
He is facing a separate charge of disturbing the peace for alleged online coercion of a state representative from Burlington. He was released under conditions, including that he comply with the 6 P.M. curfew.
The criminal case involving Gill isn’t the first time Christopher Hayden has been charged with a hateful crime. Dack in December 2015, Burlington law enforcement apprehended Hayden after people reported he was making threats and using racial slurs toward people of color on Church Street.
Christopher Hayden was charged with a simple assault, with a hate crime enhancement.
Gill claimed that the party’s offices were on lockdown for a period of time after he received the hateful emails. Vermont Democratic Party Executive Director Conor Casey said that the incident has distressed staff at the Montpelier headquarters.
Gill, the first Muslim in the nation to be a state-level party chair, attributes the growing frequency of race- and religion-based harassment to the United States presidential campaign of now-President Donald Trump.
Faisal Gill says he’s also become more anxious that verbal abuses will be followed with physical violence. Gill cited an incident in Portland, Oregon in May 2017, when a couple of men were murdered to death when they tried to stop a white man from commanding an anti-Muslim attack at a two young women.