MALDEF

Man Suspected of Anti-Immigrant Bomb Threats Held on $250K Bond

Although the bulk of anti-immigrant rhetoric in the airwaves occurred in 2006 and 2007, its consequences are still being felt well into this year. In Maryland:
A man charged with making bomb threats by phone to an immigrant advocacy group in May is being held in Montgomery County on $250,000 bond.

Wesley James Queen II of Margaret Avenue in Pasadena, Md., turned himself in Tuesday morning after an investigation traced calls made to Casa of Maryland to his phone, said Montgomery County Police Lt. Paul Starks.1
Queen faces two counts of “threatening to use a destructive device” and two counts of telephone misuse.2  The targeted organization, CASA de Maryland, had caught the attention of online anti-immigrant networks for operating day-labor centers in Montgomery County and providing English language and vocational training to immigrant workers. Apparently, CASA also caught the attention of Mr. Queen:
On May 18, police said, Queen made telephone calls to CASA and to a CASA staff member's cellphone. The staff member, Mario Quiroz, said the caller told him, "You shouldn't be surprised if your places start blowing up in pieces," according to a police report on the incident.

[…]

Quiroz said that a call was also made to CASA's 800 number and that a threatening message was left. Six of the 19 words were obscenities, and the caller said CASA should not be surprised if someone blows up one of its facilities.3
A third call was made to the vice president of CASA’s board of directors, the Reverend Simón Bautista, at his work number for the Episcopal Diocese of Washington.
"Don't be surprised when there's a [expletive] bullet in the back of your [expletive] brain," the caller said in a [voicemail] message.4
Police have not determined if the third call was made by Queen, but CASA staff say that the voice heard on the Bautista’s voicemail is similar to the one heard on the other calls. As to the Maryland charges, if convicted:
Queen could get up to 10 years in jail and be fined $10,000 for each count of threatening to use a destructive device, and up to three years and be fined $500 for each count of telephone misuse.

Queen previously was convicted of battery, burglary and several petty crimes and has served time in jail.5
It should be noted that this is not CASA’s first encounter with anti-immigrant hate. In May 2007, at the height of the immigration debate, one of CASA’s day-labor centers in Shady Grove was set on fire, causing $2,000 in damage.6  Though officials ruled it arson, as of yet, no one has been charged.

For a video report by NBC 4 in Washington, click here.

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1. Margie Hyslop, "Bomb threat suspect held on $250K bond," Maryland Gazette, 15 Oct 2008
2. "MD Offers $30 Million Taxpayer Dollars To CASA de Maryland," ALIPAC.us, 5 Oct 2007
3. Dan Morse, "Phone Threats to Immigrant Advocates Alleged," Washington Post, 15 Oct 2008
4. Id.
5. Gazette, supra note 1
6. Roberto Lovato, "Violence Against Immigrants Builds," New American Media, 9 May 2007

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund