A jury in California convicted a man for threatening out state senator, Scott Wiener, via email earlier this year.
Erik Triana, 51, was convicted on seven of eight counts related to an email he sent to Wiener's web portal shortly after the senator introduced a bill that would have allowed minors 15 years of age or older to obtain a vaccine without the consent of a parent or guardian. Triana, a father of three, was also convicted on multiple weapons charges.
"Vax my kids without my permission and expect a visit from me and my rifle," Triana wrote to Wiener in an email sent on January 22nd. He signed the email "Amendment, Second" and listed the Moscone Center as his address.
Wiener testified at trial that this threat was unique because the Moscone Center was named after the late San Francisco Mayor George Moscone who, along with iconic gay activist, Supervisor Harvey Milk, was assassinated in 1978.
"Death threats against public officials undermine democracy," Wiener said in a statement posted to social media following the conviction. "A public official should make decisions based on what benefits the community, not based on whether a decision will get the official killed. Modern politics can be polarized and toxic, but we must never normalize or tolerate death threats."
\u201cMy statement on the jury convicting the person who threatened to kill me for introducing legislation allowing teens to get vaccinated on their own. He was convicted of threats against a public official & gun offenses.\u201d
— Senator Scott Wiener (@Senator Scott Wiener)
During the course of their investigations, police linked the message to a computer Triana used at his work in Pleasanton. Police executed a search warrant in March on Triana's home and car and found an unregistered AR-15 assault weapon with nine loaded magazines, two handguns without serial numbers, two loaded handgun magazines, and two loaded AR-15 style magazines.
Triana was found guilty of threatening the life of Senator Wiener, two counts of possessing assault weapons, two counts of manufacturing or assembling unregistered firearms (known commonly as ghost guns), and two counts of having a concealed firearm in a vehicle. The jury found Triana not guilty of making a criminal threat of death or great bodily injury.
Deputy District Attorney Stephanie Kang, who prosecuted the case, echoed Wiener's concerns.
"While free speech is a cornerstone of our democracy and a Constitutionally protected right, there is a clear line between political discourse and threats of violence," Kang said in a statement. "The jury's verdict in this case highlights the fact that threats to seriously harm or kill a public servant because of disagreement with their policies is not protected speech and will not be tolerated."