39-year-old Benjamin Craig Matthews has been taken into custody on "five felony counts of terroristic threatening, as well as 13 misdemeanor counts for threats and harassing communications" according to an affidavit from the Baxter County Circuit Court. Leading up to election day, Matthews placed more than 40 calls to CNN's headquarters making threats against anchor Don Lemon. The affidavit also claims Matthews placed calls to MSNBC and other prominent Democratic congresspeople, showing a "pattern of harassment toward certain political affiliations."
Matthews regularly harassed CNN's Atlanta headquarters, calling "dozens of times" between October 31 and November 2. At one point, he called six times within the span of a 23 minutes.
@ArkTimes What's up with all this hatred,— Janai Williams (@Janai Williams)1541701729.0
During many calls, Matthews would make threatening comments against Don Lemon, at one point saying he'd like to "kick the s--- out of" Lemon. In another call, he asked the operator to patch him through to Lemon's "dead body hanging from a tree." Over the course of several days and several more calls, Matthews would ask the operator to connect him with "pipe bombs for" Lemon, and "bloody pictures" of Lemon's body, "cut up in small pieces, like the movie Saw."
@MaggieJordanACN Hit the sweet spot: not actually accomplishing any objectives but will do time. Love to be the fly… https://t.co/nq4fXLCy9B— Kosturdistan (@Kosturdistan)1541651256.0
The Atlanta Police Department traced the calls to Matthew's phone, which revealed he was a resident of Arkansas. Officers in Arkansas took Matthews into custody, and revealed in the affidavit that he'd also made threatening calls to "Rep. Maxine Waters, D-California, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, the Washington Speakers Bureau, Planned Parenthood, and Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti."
@MaggieJordanACN @ShinyHappyHead This is disgraceful.Another example of hate . People crossing the line.Just don't… https://t.co/SDC55YDAmW— rant45 (@rant45)1541658522.0
The charges against Matthews are especially serious at this moment in time, when, just two weeks ago, Cesar Sayoc of Florida was taken into custody for allegedly mailing homemade pipe-bombs to many of the same prominent Democratic voices Matthews harassed and threatened.
Twitter spoke out against Matthews, knowing there's no place for hate in a modern society:
@MyWchu @glwoods3377 Not A Brain in That Head— Irish Mary (@Irish Mary)1541692284.0
@footballfillibu These 40 death threats were probably just taken out of context.— Daniel Sanford (@Daniel Sanford)1541771959.0
@footballfillibu @RioSlade All I saw reading this 😂 https://t.co/Pqeg4Od5uh— Emmanuel (@Emmanuel)1541819838.0
CBS Reports that many of Matthew's calls were inspired by a recent statement from Don Lemon in which he claimed that, statistically, U.S. residents have more reason to fear acts of violence from radicalized far-right white men than from radicalized immigrants or minorities. Lemon would go on to offer several studies and verifiable facts to back up his claim.
Open racism? CNN host says ‘white men are biggest terror threat in US’ youtu.be
Matthews apparently took such offense to this statement he began calling CNN headquarters and making threats intending to terrorize Lemon.
@CBSNews Irony https://t.co/x5LPZMQH2E— Negasonic Warhead (@Negasonic Warhead)1541810198.0
@CBSNews There is an entire generation of arrogant out of control men who refuse to control their emotions & have n… https://t.co/oSJqeh2G9j— Victoria Grace (@Victoria Grace)1541777708.0
@CBSNews was he mad that white men like himself are being openly outed as terroristic threats to society? or was he… https://t.co/QNoqjuNazA— @brandeisstudent (@@brandeisstudent)1541800169.0
Don Lemon: Homegrown killers are the problem, not caravan youtu.be
@CBSNews Evidence of Lemon's point.— Suzanne Ashe (@Suzanne Ashe)1541826640.0
Matthews is currently awaiting trial and being held on $15,000 bail.