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Williamstown Releases Content of Email that Threatened Public Officials
By Stephen Dravis, iBerkshires Staff
08:35AM / Friday, June 03, 2022
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A May 23 email that sparked a police investigation and drew condemnation from two town committees threatened public servants with a "knife across your throat."
On Thursday afternoon, the town responded to a public records request for the message that was characterized as "violent" and "intimidation" in a joint statement issued Wednesday by the Select Board and the Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Equity Committee.
The town redacted the identity of the person who sent the email, citing a provision in Massachusetts General Law that allows nondisclosure of information that, "may constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy."
Town Clerk and records access officer Nicole Beverly also expressed a concern that the email address used to send the diatribe may be an alias and, "a resident with a similar or same name, who was not the sender, may be improperly implicated," by public disclosure.
A Williamstown Police Department investigation found that the sender was, in fact, a resident of the town, and the person in question has been notified that continued behavior could result in a charge of criminal harassment, according to Wednesday night's statement.
The email was sent to the town-owned email address at 7:16 p.m. on May 23 with the subject line, "Routes 2 and 7 run in both directions: coming in and GOING OUT."
The email goes on to use more all caps throughout its two confusing paragraphs.
Although the message is somewhat incoherent, the intent appears to be clear: a desire to silence efforts to make the town more welcoming to a diverse population — the core of the DIRE Committee's mission that began in the summer of 2020.
The writer specifically targets efforts to increase affordable housing in town, writing, "North Adams, Adams and Pownal have plenty of affordable housing for those who are more suited to living there than Williamstown."
The writer then appears to try to link the affordable housing question to "mass shootings that keep coming one after another by actions of the disaffected."
In addition to telling those who disagree with the letter writer that, "THEY ARE FREE TO AND SHOULD LEAVE," the email closes with its most threatening statement.
"But as time goes on more and more will become willing to give you the knife across your throat," the email concludes.
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