Federal and New York authorities announced on Friday that Juan Thompson of Missouri had been charged in connection with threats made to a number of Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) across the country.
Thompson has been charged with making the threats as part of a campaign of stalking “a former romantic interest.” William F. Sweeney, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s New York Field Division, said that Thompson’s harassment campaign involved the defamation of his female victim, “but his threats intimidated an entire community.”
The criminal complaint against Thompson claims that he made at least eight threats as part of his harassment campaign. Some threats were allegedly made in the victim’s name, while others “appear to have been made in Thompson’s own name but which Thompson later claimed were made by [the victim] in an effort to falsely implicate Thompson.”
Thompson has not been accused of making all of the more than 100 recent threats against JCCs and other Jewish institutions.
As recently as February 24, Thompson used his Twitter account to claim that a “nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated” had sent a bomb threat in his name. Thompson is African-American.
Thompson also claimed that the woman had “threatened to kill Trump.” According to the criminal complaint, Thompson allegedly sent faxes from anonymous senders to his ex-girlfriend’s employer. These hoax faxes contained screenshots he purported to be from his ex-girlfriend’s social media account, alleging that she had made anti-Semitic statements.
Thompson’s arrest is not his first brush with notoriety. Thompson, a graduate of Vassar, was a journalist, writing for a variety of outlets from DNAInfo to The Intercept. His stories, typically written from a left-wing perspective on issues of interest to the African-American community, covered an array of topics, from his own life growing up poor in St. Louis, Missouri, to more recent incidents such as the Ferguson shooting controversy.
In 2015, Thompson wrote a story claiming that he’s interviewed a cousin of white supremacist Charleston shooter Dylann Storm Roof. After it turned out that Roof had no such cousin, The Intercept fired Thompson, alleging he had engaged in a “pattern of deception” in a number of his stories, fabricating quotes and creating fake e-mail accounts to impersonate people.
After being fired, Thompson posted a bitter essay on Medium denying wrongdoing and criticizing his former employers, writing that they had a “problem with black folk.” Thompson wrote that he felt “like a black person in 1950s Alabama sitting in the back of the bus.”
In the essay, Thompson also raged against “the white New York liberal media [that] makes me vomit with their arrogant, patronizing bigotry.” He also described the liberal media as “a hypocritical, pernicious, circle jerk featuring white elites.”
His firing clearly embittered Thompson about whites in general. At one point, Thompson briefly changed his Twitter screen name to “Juan X,” and described himself as a “former negro whisperer for white racists.”
His hostility extended to white police officers, whom he referred to as “evil sociopaths” and “the worst ppl.” Ironically, as a Vassar student, Thompson had penned an editorial in which he wrote that “most police officers are decent people” trying to protect their communities. He had radicalized quite a bit in intervening years.
His rancor extended towards President Barack Obama, whom he termed a “rotten collaborating liberal” who “killed innocent POC.” In one tweet, he referred to an Obama speech as “coonery.”
Most recently, Thompson announced in November 2016 that he was running for mayor of St. Louis, to “fight back against Trumpian fascism and socio-economic terrorism.” Thompson claimed that he wanted to dismantle the system of “racial supremacy and greedy capitalism that is stacked against us.”
He created a Gofundme page to raise $5,000 for his ostensible election bid. He got $25.