A man who allegedly threatened to kidnap the mayor of Wichita, Kansas, slash his throat, and turn him “into fertilizer” over the city’s mask mandate, has been arrested and charged by local authorities.
Wichita police say they arrested 59-year-old retired firefighter and musician Meredith Dowty on Friday after being alerted by a city official about a series of messages targeting Wichita’s Democratic mayor, Brandon Whipple. The messages described an elaborate plot to abduct and kill the mayor, with Dowty allegedly asking the recipient to share Whipple’s address.
“He said he was going to kidnap me and slash my throat and he needed my address because I needed to see the hangman — me and everyone who, something about tyranny,” Whipple told The Wichita Eagle. “It sounded like the person was very upset about pretty much mask mandates and he said something about not being able to see his mother because of COVID restrictions on elderly homes.”
He said that Dowty also mentioned that he would turn the mayor into fertilizer, according to the New York Times.
Wichita Police are continuing their investigation but said Dowty was likely operating alone. They also say they’ve found no evidence that any other city officials are in immediate danger. Dowty is charged with making a criminal threat.
The Wichita mask mandate, imposed July 3, is one of many in American cities that have sparked backlash. Protests small and large have denounced the mandates, even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend mask-wearing for significantly reducing the transmission of COVID-19, which has killed more than 300,000 Americans. But the new wave of plots against government officials who instate mandatory safety measures, often Democrats, is extremely concerning.
Earlier this month, the FBI foiled a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer from her summer home and put her on trial before storming the state’s Capitol building with 200 members of an anti-government militia known as the Wolverine Watchmen. Six of the 13 men arrested have since been charged with conspiracy to commit a kidnapping.
The same way Dowty criticized Whipple, the men plotting to overthrow the Michigan government accused Whitmer of overstepping her power. One of the Michigan plotters called Whitmer a “tyrant b***h” in Facebook messages exchanged between the conspirators. Last week, the FBI revealed that some members of that same group had similar plans for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.
Both Northam and Whitmer have blamed the threats on President Donald Trump, who has mocked mask-wearing and incited radical actions with his rhetoric. Trump did not take the criticism well at the time, and is still encouraging attendees of his rally to chant “lock her up” over Whitmer’s lockdown policies.