Blogger surrenders over threats
New Jersey man accused of inciting violence against Connecticut lawmakers on Web site
By Pat Eaton-Robb Published on 6/12/2009
Hartford - A New Jersey blogger who urged readers to “take up arms” against Connecticut lawmakers and who suggested government officials should “obey the Constitution or die” surrendered Thursday on a charge of inciting violence.
Harold “Hal” Turner, a former radio talk show host from North Bergen who broadcasts commentary on his Web site, was angry over legislation that would have given lay members of Roman Catholic churches in Connecticut more control over their parish's finances. The bill, brought by state Sen. Andrew McDonald and Rep. Michael Lawlor, was withdrawn in March.
Turner was charged by Capitol Police in Connecticut with inciting injury to persons or property, and released after posting bond. He is due in court June 22.
On June 2, Turner wrote on his blog, turnerradionetwork.blogspot.com, that Catholics should “take up arms and put down this tyranny by force,” and promised to post the lawmakers' home addresses.
”It is our intent to forment direct action against these individuals personally,” Turner wrote. “These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die.”
Writing about police or prosecutors who may try to stop his cause, Turner wrote, “I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down too.”
Last week, Turner explained the posts as “crude political hyperbole uttered in a context which did not lend itself to imminent lawlessness.”
On Thursday, Turner's attorneys issued a statement saying that his First Amendment rights need to be protected, even if people disagree with his views.
McDonald declined to comment. Lawlor did not immediately return a phone message left Thursday.
Late Thursday afternoon, Turner's blog had been taken down, apparently by the company that hosts it.
Turner's views have drawn scrutiny before. The FBI questioned him, but did not charge him with any crime, in 2005 after the mother and husband of U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow were found shot to death in Chicago. In an interview with The Associated Press at the time, Turner said he was questioned because two years earlier he had said on his radio show that Lefkow “was worthy of being killed.”
Two years ago, police in New Jersey beefed up security for four state Supreme Court justices whose addresses Turner revealed in his Webcast “to show they can be gotten to.” Turner released the information after the court ruled that gay couples were entitled to the same rights as married couples.
Associated Press Writer Stephanie Reitz in Hartford contributed to this story.