The former Corvallis School Board member who resigned over the weekend said they've received graphic death threats targeting their children, following a controversial tweet about police.
On Nov. 7, Brandy Fortson tweeted: "Hey kids, always remember that all cops are bastards.”
The tweet was criticized by the National Fraternal Order of Police, which took a screenshot and replied, "You should not be involved in the development of our nation's children."
The tweet was also condemned by Corvallis superintendent Ryan Noss.
Fortson, who describes themselves as a queer, non-binary socialist, said someone called them and threatened their 8-year-old child after the story gained media attention.
"It was a blocked number," they told OPB. "The man's voice said he was looking forward to shooting my child in the head at school and watching her brains get strewn about on the sidewalk while he laughed and I cried."
Fortson said they told their child about the threat.
"Of course, we had to tell it to them in 8-year-old language so that way they could comprehend," Fortson said.
Fortson said after the conversation about the threat, their child planned to run around the playground during recess to be a harder target for violence.
"This is a plan that just my 8-year-old created on their own because they're terrified," Fortson said. "They actually haven't gone to school for three days because they're scared."
Fortson said their child finally returned to class Thursday.
They added there has been harassment at their home as well.
"Waking up in the morning to go to work and finding notes on my car that say 'go die, faggot' or 'hope you don't get shot today' make it very hard to believe we're as good of a community," Fortson said.
Fortson said they reported the death threats to police. An officer came to their home and said police would increase patrols, but added that because the phone number was blocked, it would be difficult for officers to do more.
"The officer knew what the tweet said and said, 'I'm not going to hold it against you,'" Fortson recalled. The Corvallis Police Department didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.
Fortson was on the school board for about four months and described their relationship as "very good" with other members. Two of the board members have kids who have gone to school with Fortson's children since kindergarten. But Fortson said they heard from only one board member who reached out and asked how they were doing since the threats began.
School board chair Sami Al-AbdRabbuh said he too reached out and said at a board meeting Tuesday he was worried about the threats to Fortson.
In their resignation letter, Fortson thanked voters for the opportunity to work in local education.
"I am very sorry I am unable to continue on in this position, but the safety of my children outweighs my call for politics," Fortson wrote in the letter. "To all the LBGTQ+ youth who are reading this, you matter, you are seen, and you ALWAYS deserve to be safe. I will keep fighting for your presence in the world. I promise you this."
Fortson told OPB they stand by their tweet about police, but added it was sarcastic and not meant literally. Fortson said the comment came after they read an article about Texas police arresting a 22-year-old who purchased groceries, but allegedly stole the cart when he left the store. Fortson said they believe the tweet was taken out of context.
"I am fine standing behind my tweet in context," Fortson said. "Out of context, saying I directed it at Corvallis School District children is ludicrous."
Fortson also said the tweet was sent from an account that was separate from a professional account they used to tweet about the Corvallis School District.
Fortson's comments have been picked up and criticized by far-right supporters on Twitter.
Andy Ngo, a writer who frequently directs his 320,000-plus followers toward people associated with socialist causes, tweeted about Fortson three times Thursday.
"Brandy Fortson’s extreme views were all over social media," Ngo wrote. The tweets gained hundreds of retweets and thousands of likes.
Fortson said within 15 minutes of Ngo's tweets, they received "10 or 11 death threats," which they reported to Twitter. Fortson's mother has also allegedly received threats.
Fortson said their original tweet was liked by three people.
"I tweeted it because we live in a time of 2019 wherein American minorities ... are in a state where we are constantly under siege of not getting treated equal," they said.