'It’s a crime, pure and simple': Asheville man indicted for sending racist Instagram threats to Bakari Sellers

'It’s a crime, pure and simple': Asheville man indicted for sending racist Instagram threats to Bakari Sellers
LOS ANGELES - FEB 22: Bakari Sellers at the UCLA's 2018 Institute Of The Environment And Sustainability (IoES) Gala at the Private Estate on February 22, 2018 in Beverly Hills, CA (Shutterstock).

A North Carolina man has been charged with sending racist threats through social media to Bakari Sellers, a Black civil rights attorney, national cable news political analyst and former state lawmaker.

According to The Post and Courier, Grant Edward Olson Jr., of Asheville, N.C., was charged on April 8 by the South Carolina State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) with stalking, which is a felony in the state. The 48-year-old Olson also is facing a misdemeanor charge of assaulting or intimidating a person based on their political opinions or the exercise of their civil rights, according to arrest warrant affidavits in the case.

"SLED agents wrote in the affidavits that Olson admitted to sending about 65 Instagram messages to Sellers, which threatened him and his family," The Post and Courier reports. "The communications included racial slurs and messages connected to the killings of Black Americans, according to the affidavits."

Olson allegedly sent the messages between Feb. 25 and March 24. He admitted they were intended to intimidate Sellers because of his political opinions and his role as a civil rights attorney.

If convicted of the stalking felony, Olson could face up to five years in prison. The intimidation charge carries an additional penalty of up to two years in prison.

Sellers, a CNN pundit who ran for South Carolina lieutenant governor in 2014, said in a statement on April 11 that he took any threats made against his family very seriously.

“They shouldn’t be subject to threats and intimidation like this,” he said. “No one should. This isn’t a political debate. This isn’t the ‘new normal.’ It’s a crime, pure and simple.”

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