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‘I Got an AK-47 Pointed Directly at You’: Man Faces Hate Crime Charges for Threats Against Colorado’s First and Only Black Congressman

A Colorado man is facing felony charges after allegedly stalking and repeatedly threatening Rep. Joe Neguse, the only Black member ever elected to Congress from the Centennial State.

The judge overseeing Michael James Kennedy’s case exhausted ten minutes explaining the charges leveled against him before setting Kennedy’s bond at $50,000.

Of those charges, 17 were threatening voice messages that included assaulting the congressman with an AK-47.

Man Makes Threats Against Colorado Congressman
Michael James Kennedy allegedly left threatening messages for Congressman

Colorado Bureau of Investigation records note Kennedy was arrested by Denver police at his home on Thursday, April 6, 9 News reports. In an arrest warrant affidavit, an investigator said, “The repeated threats included a clear racial animus toward Rep. Neguse.”

The Denver police and the FBI launched an investigation with help from U.S. Capitol Police to build a case against Kennedy for the threats. The agencies then turned the case over to the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, the most local prosecution to Neguse, the Daily Camera reports.

Days later, the man appeared in court video from a Denver jail for his Tuesday, April 11, Boulder County Court hearing.

Kennedy began harassing Neguse, a Democrat from the Boulder suburb of Lafayette, between May 19 and June 6 of 2022, authorities say.

Court documents stated he made “repeated telephonic threats of gun-based violence and retaliation” against Neguse.

One of the 17 messages said, “What are you gonna do about me? I got an AK-47 pointed directly at you” and “You wanna take my gun away?… Maybe I shoot you.”

This attack is very specific to Neguse’s politics. The 38-year-old son of Eritrean immigrants is a strong proponent of gun control, and he is the vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

In a separate call, he asked for Democrats to “stand up and say white supremacy,” while on yet another he purposely mispronounced the congressman’s name. Instead of saying Joe Neguse, he said Joe Negroes.

Court documents say the 59-year-old also made a call where he referenced the 2022 mass murder in Buffalo, New York, at a Tops Friendly Markets supermarket, where 10 people were killed.

As a result of the calls, Neguse’s staffers say they had to increase security around the congressman.

Kennedy faces three charges: one felonious count of stalking; one felonious count of retaliation against an elected official and a misdemeanor count for committing a bias-motivated crime that placed the victim in fear.

This was the intention.

Kennedy reportedly told investigators after he was arrested that he made the calls to scare the elected official.

In the same interrogation, Kennedy told detectives he wanted to “buy a 9mm because it packs a punch” and that he wanted the firearm so he could “have, hold, caress and love.”

Neguse is not the only Black or Democratic politician the man is accused of harassing.

He also sent “racially-charged messages” to Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, and Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, all Democrats. Hancock is also Black.

Neguse was first elected to Congress from the state’s 2nd Congressional District in 2018.

In both 2020 and 2022, Neguse was re-elected to his seat, which includes Boulder and Longmont, stretches north to the Wyoming border and west to Hayden, and includes the ski towns of Breckenridge and Vail.

Outside of a 2018 DUI conviction, this is the only mark on Kennedy’s criminal record.

Kennedy’s next court date is in Boulder County for a preliminary hearing on May 1.

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