Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez said she used to wake up to a stack of photos from Capitol police or the FBI of people threatening to kill her as abuse quickly became the norm for her and those in her life.
“I used to wake up in the morning and literally get a stack of pictures that were forwarded by Capitol police or FBI. Like, ‘These are the people who want to kill you today,'” AOC told Vanity Fair this week.
The hate extended to her family, including her brother, Gabriel, who would receive calls from the FBI warning him not to open his mail due to bomb threats, according to the publication. Other targets of abuse include the designer of her Cesar Chavez–inspired campaign posters, who would receive death threats, and her former dean at Boston University, who would regularly receive emails calling him the n-word.
She also noted that her offices would be flooded with calls, voicemails and emails from Trump supporters repeating any recent jabs against her by President Donald Trump, from calling her a “poor student” to a “wack job.”
The threats go far beyond just leaving a voicemail or commenting online. A month into her first term in the House of Representatives in 2019, a Coast Guard lieutenant and self-described white nationalist, Lt. Christopher Hasson, was arrested in Maryland with a stockpile of weapons as part of a plot to kill Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Kamala Harris and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, among others. Hasson was sentenced to 13 years in prison earlier this year after pleading guilty to federal gun and drug charges.
Around the same time as that plot, Ocasio-Cortez found a man sitting in a parked car outside of her D.C. apartment with a camera, according to Vanity Fair. A right-wing news outlet later published the photos of her address, only blurring it out after her office complained.
Last year, ProPublica reported that a secret Facebook group, titled “I’m 10-15” (Border Patrol code for “aliens in custody”) and hosting roughly 9,500 members, involved several current or former U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents sharing graphic digitally altered images of Ocasio-Cortez.
“Did you see the images of officers circulating Photoshoped images of my violent rape?” she asked then–acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan during a House hearing in July 2019.
Ocasio-Cortez told Vanity Fair that the support from the other three members of the “squad,” Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, has been a source of comfort for the congresswoman as attacks have spiraled.
“There have been many times, especially in the first six months, where I felt like I couldn’t do this, like I didn’t know if I was going to be able to run for reelection,” she told the publication. “There was a time where the volume of threats had gotten so high that I didn’t even know if I was going to live to my next term. Their sisterhood and their friendship, it’s not some political alliance. It’s a very deep, unconditional human bond.”
Newsweek reached out to Ocasio-Cortez’s office for comment but did not receive one in time for publication.
*story by NewsWeek