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Cynthia Johnson: Michigan lawmaker disciplined for telling 'Trumpers' to 'tread lightly'

She received racial threats prior to comments
Posted at 8:22 AM, Dec 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-13 15:13:03-05

A Michigan lawmaker has been removed from her committee assignments after telling Trump supporters to "tread lightly" in a since-deleted video on Facebook.

The comments by State Rep. Cynthia Johnson, a Democrat representing Detroit, came days after she made national headlines by sharing threatening voicemails calling for her to be lynched. The caller was upset with Johnson's actions in a hearing with Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who was seeking to overturn the results of the presidential election in the state.

On Tuesday evening, Johnson posted a three-minute video to Facebook that concluded with language that Trump supporters took as a direct threat.

"So, this is just a warning to you Trumpers. Be careful. Walk lightly. We ain’t playing with you. Enough of the shenanigans. Enough is enough," Johnson said. "And for those of you who are soldiers, you know how to do it. Do it right. Be in order. Make them pay. I love y’all."

Johnson later claimed that she was not using the term "soldiers" in a threatening way, but was only using it to refers to people in the Black community.

"In the Black community, we call ourselves 'soldiers' against racism ... 'soldiers' for democracy. That's what 'soldiers' means in our community," she said.

Her video also encouraged her supporters to oppose racism "right and in order."

But the comments have caused significant backlash among Trump supporters. One Trump supporter, Roberta Adams, told Scripps station WXYZ in Detroit that she reported Johnson's comments to the Monroe County Sheriff's Department.

On Wednesday, House Speaker Lee Chatfield Speaker-elect Jason Wentworth — both of whom are Republicans — said that Johnson had been removed from her committee assignments and that they were exploring further disciplinary action against her.

"Threats to either Republicans or Democrats are unacceptable and un-American," the two said, in part, in a joint statement.

On Thursday, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said she thought Chatfield and Wentworth went overboard in their punishment.

"I think that removing her from her committees is too far, truly ... I have reached out and asked the incoming House leadership to reconsider that," Whitmer said.

Whitmer added that Johnson has been through a lot in recent months. In addition to receiving racially-based threats over the weekend, she's lost family members to COVID-19.

"I believe that it is crucial that we show one another some grace right now, and some empathy and some compassion," Whitmer said.