Several local Black churches recieved an email warning that Black men were going to be targeted by white supremacist groups, but police said the message came from a bot account.
Gainesville Police found out about the email Thursday, which threatened to kidnap and hang Black men. However, GPD spokesperson Graham Glover, said the emails were sent from a fake address.
GPD worked with the FBI to confirm the email wasn’t authentic, Glover said.
It wasn’t a real email sent out from the NAACP, Glover said. As of Friday, GPD doesn’t see any viable threats in the Gainesville area but can’t speak on areas outside of its jurisdiction.
“Someone’s trying to create panic where panic doesn’t need to be created,” Glover said.
The email was addressed to “Church family” and said it was being shared out of safety concerns. It claimed the NAACP received credible information that neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups have initations, which include torturing and killing Black men, this weekend.
The email urges the Black community to pay attention to their surroundings and be wary of new friends. It also wrote that Black women should also remain alert. It was unclear whether the emails were related to the presidential election.
The email circulating is identical to one that surfaced in Atlanta this summer, Glover said. GPD received numerous calls from the community asking police about the legitimacy of the warning, which was also posted on social media, he added.
The post was sent to invoke fear, said Chanae Jackson, a local Black Lives Matter and community advocate. Jackson added that it was a word-for-word copy of a post she saw in 2016.
“We need to continue to be brave and continue to be bold,” she said. “First they ignore us, then they laugh at us, then they fight us and then we win.”
While she said she isn’t worried, she said Black people should always be cautious.
“If they’re ready to bite or attack, they’re not gonna give you a warning,” she said in reference to white domestic terrorist groups.
Asta Hemenway is a third-year senior majoring in Journalism. Born in Tallahassee, she grew up Senegalese American. When she’s not writing or doing school, she loves watching Netflix and Tiktok in her spare time.