A letter threatening the life of Southwestern College CSEA President Andre Harris and his family was mailed to his home on April 14.
Harris said there is an investigation underway and he could not give details about the letter, but he said he thinks the threat is related to a letter to the editor he wrote published March 22 in The Sun. In his letter, Harris argued that working conditions for African-Americans were not as bad as a previous letter published in The Sun by a group of custodians and an employee had claimed.
“Right now I can’t comment on recent events because the college is investigating the matters you are referring to,” said Harris.
He said he would follow up as soon as possible.
“I have to allow the process to take its course,” he said, “but for now I have to reserve my comments.”
CSEA Vice President Silvia Lugo said she knew about the letter, but could not comment while the investigation is in progress. She said it was “very disturbing” that someone would threaten to kill Harris over his personal opinions.
Harris said he was unable to disclose anything contained in the letter, but he described it as “vile, toxic and very demeaning.”
Depending on the contents of the letter, it could either be a state or federal crime, according to FBI spokesperson Darryl Foxworth. A threatening letter that meets federal criteria could net the writer 20 years in prison, a fine or both according to Title 18, section 876 of the Federal Criminal Code.
Although he was offered a security detail by the college, Harris and his family refused. He did, however, tell his children to be more aware of their surroundings as a precaution.
“I will not live in fear and I will not be terrorized,” he said.
Before the threat was mailed to Harris, Facilities Supervisor Ramsey Romero and former Director of Facilities John Brown were placed on paid leave. Brown later resigned.
Following the threat, two more employees were placed on leave and had their college computers removed from their offices.
SWC President Dr. Melinda Nish did not deny the leaves of absence were related to the threat made against Harris, but said she is not at liberty to discuss the situation as it is still under investigation.