Onetime OWS Activist Convicted of Threatening Federal Officials
Above: Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park 2011.
Below: Former Occupy Wall Street protestor Brendan Hunt (also known as “X-Ray Ultra”): “Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies and letʼs take america back”
A man who spent several weeks camped out in the Financial District’s Zuccotti Park in September, 2011, as part of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, has been convicted by a federal trial jury of threatening to assault and murder members of the United States Congress.
On April 28, following a one-week trial in the federal court for the Eastern District of New York, located in Brooklyn, Brendan Hunt (who called himself “X-Ray Ultra” in online postings) was also found guilty of threatening to retaliate against these elected officials on account of performance of their official duties.
Mr. Hunt first came to the attention of federal authorities two days after the January 6 riot, during which supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol, in an attempt to prevent Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election from being officially certified.
On January 8, 2021, Mr. Hunt posted to BitChute — an online hosting service known as a magnet for far-right extremists and conspiracy theorists, as well for hosting hateful content — a video with the title, “Kill Your Senators,” which included the exhortation, “Slaughter Them All.” In that video, Mr. Hunt urged his viewers to violent action: “we need to go back to the U.S. Capitol when all of the Senators and a lot of the Representatives are back there, and this time we have to show up with our guns. And we need to slaughter these motherfuckers.” Mr. Hunt also advocated the violent overthrow of the federal government, claiming that “our government at this point is basically a handful of traitors… so what you need to do is take up arms, get to D.C., probably the inauguration… so called inauguration of this mother-fucking communist Joe Biden. That’s probably the best time to do this, get your guns, show up to D.C., and literally just spray these motherfuckers… put some bullets in their fucking heads.”
On that video, Mr. Hunt added a request: “If anybody has a gun, give me it, I’ll go there myself and shoot them and kill them… We have to take out these Senators and then replace them with actual patriots.” He also alleged that the United States is being led by, “a Zionist Occupied Government.” Further investigation showed that Mr. Hunt had downloaded multiples tracts espousing violent white supremacist and anti-Semitic views, including Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and the manifesto written by Dylan Roof, the perpetrator of the 2015 Charleston church shooting, in which he killed nine African Americans.
Once federal investigators began inquiring into Mr. Hunt’s online activities, they uncovered a broad range of posts stretching back more than a month on various social media platforms, threatening Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives; Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer; and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
On December 6, 2020, he posted multiple messages to his Facebook account, the first calling Speaker Pelosi, Senator Schumer, and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez “high-value targets,” and stating: “they really need to be put down. These commies will see death before they see us surrender.” A second message called on former President Donald Trump to hold a public execution of Ms. Pelosi, Mr. Schumer, and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. He added, “if you don’t do it, the citizenry will. We’re not voting in another rigged election. Start up the firing squads, mow down these commies, and let’s take America back.”
At his March 1 arraignment, Mr. Hunt pleaded not guilty to these charges, and federal judge Pamela Chen refused a request by his attorney that Mr. Hunt to be released before trial.
During his trial, Mr. Hunt testified as a witness for his defense, arguing that his online statements were not meant to be taken seriously, especially given the context of extremist online rhetoric. He also claimed that drug use and depression were factors in his conduct. The jury, which deliberated for only three hours before returning a guilty verdict, appeared to be unconvinced.
Mr. Hunt is slated to be sentenced on June 22. He is facing up to ten years in jail.
Landmarks Panel Approves Howard Hughes Proposal for Scaled-Back Tower at Seaport Site
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) on Tuesday approved a proposal by the Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC) to erect a large building at 250 Water Street, a 1.1-acre parking lot bounded by Pearl, Beekman, and Water Streets, as well as Peck Slip. This site has been the focus of debate, speculation, and controversy since HHC’s purchase of the lot from Milstein Properties for $180 million, in 2018. To read more…
Local Public High Schools Perform Well in National Rankings
The U.S. News & World Report has issued its annual national rankings of high schools, and several local secondary institutions, either located in Lower Manhattan or else attended by large numbers of students from this community, have earned favorable mention.
Stuyvesant High School, located in Battery Park City, was deemed to rank number 44 among all secondary schools in the United States, and seventh among all New York City public high schools. Reviewers noted that Stuyvesant has a graduation rate of 99 percent, that 100 percent of its students are proficient in math and reading, and that 88 percent of pupils there passed at least one advanced placement exam. To read more…
Lower Manhattan Resident Charged with Defrauding Millions from Pandemic Loan Program
A resident of the Financial District has been arrested in connection with what federal prosecutors describe as a $5.8-million scheme to defraud the paycheck protection program (PPP), the federal loans given to small businesses hurt by the economic slowdown triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Marcus Frazier, who resides at 19 Dutch Street, was taken into custody on Wednesday morning. Federal prosecutors allege that he filed for almost $6 million in PPP loans, and actually received approximately $2.17 million, based on these applications. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
One of the most famous rulers in Chinese history, the Yongle emperor (r. 1402–24) gained renown for constructing Beijing’s Forbidden City, directing ambitious naval expeditions, and creating the world’s largest encyclopedia. On May 6, art historian Aurelia Campbell will take us from the heart of Beijing, to a Daoist architectural complex on Mount Wudang, to offer insight into Yongle’s sense of empire and discuss legacy of China’s greatest builder. Free
Online lunchtime program with Wall Street legend Peter Cohen, in an interview with CNBC Senior Markets Correspondent Bob Pisani. From leading a storied Wall Street firm during the historic buyout war over RJR Nabisco, which was documented in the book and movie Barbarians at the Gate, to having a ring-side seat to a dozen crises, panics and crashes, Peter brings perspective and insight to today’s markets. Free
In this lecture, historian Mike Bunn offers the first comprehensive history of the British colony of West Florida. For a host of reasons, including the fact that West Florida did not rebel against the British government, the colony has long been dismissed as a loyal but inconsequential fringe outpost, if considered at all. But the colony’s history showcases a tumultuous political scene featuring a halting attempt at instituting representative government; a host of bold and colorful characters; a compelling saga of struggle and perseverance in the pursuit of financial stability; and a dramatic series of battles on land and water which brought about the end of its days under the Union Jack. Free
BPCA Prepares Preliminary Steps to Implement South End Avenue Plan
The Battery Park City Authority offered an update on its plans to reconfigure South End Avenue and West Thames Street. This project envisions narrowing both South End Avenue and West Thames Street, while widening nearby sidewalks, and relocating several bus stops.
Board chair Tammy Meltzer began the discussion by noting that CB1, “passed resolutions and had dialogue about South End Avenue going back five years. It’s been very long time that we’ve been waiting for capital improvements on South End Avenue,” in a reference to the BPCA’s presentation about its budget, offered at the April 7 meeting.
BPCA president B.J. Jones replied, “we do have a line item for South End Avenue for this year, to kick the design and engineering into gear. And you’re right, Tammy. We have talked and spent a lot of time with that effort. And it is time that we get started.” To read more…
The Downtown Alliance, in partnership with The Tank and En Garde Arts, will present a live, free outdoor performance festival in Lower Manhattan on the weekends of May 15/16 and May 22/23.
Three open-air venues (Four New York Plaza, where a covered loading dock will become a stage; the 85 Broad Street arcade, adjacent to Stone Street; and One Battery Park Plaza, featuring with views of New York Harbor) will host performances from noon to 8:00 pm. Participating artists include multiple Obie Award and Pulitzer Prize winners, as well as emerging voices, such as playwright/actress Kaaron Briscoe; playwright/actor David Greenspan; hip-hop, spoken word and performance artists Baba Israel and Grace Galu; and popular downtown music and storytelling duo James and Jerome. Tickets are free, but required—and must be reserved in advance for social distancing and pandemic precautions. To R.S.V.P., please browse: TheTankNYC.org and/or EnGardeArts.org
Ars Gratia Artis
The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC) is offering 18 free arts classes for older adults, with offerings ranging from a Japanese dance workshop to memoir writing. The organization has enlisted more than a dozen professional artists, working across a broad range of disciplines, oversee creative-aging projects for Downtown seniors. The classes are offered through June 30, and all are remote and free to attend. No previous experience is required, and art materials are provided. The series includes dance and movement, music, theater and storytelling, visual arts and writing and literature. For more information, or to sign up, please browse: https://lmcc.net/resources/artist-residencies/su-casa/
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
9/11 Victim Compensation Fund Report
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.