News

Thomasville man makes online threat to kill protesters, loses job as a result

As Triad news station WFMY live-streamed a third day of anti-police violence protests in downtown Greensboro Monday, a number of comments jumped out at those watching the Facebook feed.

“I’m about to get in my car and drive over some of these people,” wrote a man identifying himself as Benjamin Benelli Roberts of Thomasville.

“My shotgun is ready to start shooting,” he also wrote.

Roberts was making the threats from his Facebook account, the privacy settings of which allow anyone to see his information. The page includes right-wing political rhetoric, images of Confederate flags, Roberts posing with various guns and Trump 2020 signs.

Benjamin Benelli Roberts

It didn’t take long for locals to begin circulating his photo in connection with the comments and note that he works for Miraje Reconstruction & Development.

The Greensboro company counts among its clients N.C. A&T, UNC-Greensboro, North Carolina State University, Duke University, Wake Forest University, Guilford County and the triad cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point.

Once aware of Roberts’ online threats, the company immediately began investigating. On Tuesday, Miraje confirmed it has terminated Roberts’ employment.

“This has all happened very fast and we are dealing with it swiftly,” said Dale Kitchell, director of human resources for Miraje. “This does not reflect our company in any way, shape or form and is disturbing to the owner and general manager.”

The company was “horrified” by the incident, Kitchell said.

Roberts couldn’t be reached Tuesday afternoon for comment.

[Update: Roberts returned a Facebook message from N.C. Policy Watch Tuesday evening at just after 9 p.m. “I am sorry for what I said and you will never hear those threats again,” Roberts wrote.]

Although Roberts did not physically harm anyone, his violent rhetoric prompted Greensboro police to investigate his threats.

The incident has a particularly disturbing historical resonance in Greensboro, where in 1979 Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazi Party members shot and killed five Communist Workers Party members participating in an anti-racist protest. The incident, now known as The Greensboro Massacre, is still a shameful and divisive chapter in the city’s history.

The protesters Roberts threatened to shoot and run over with his car were demonstrating on the same block as the Woolworth’s building where, in 1960, N.C. A&T students staged a sit-in protest that ignited a national movement. The building is now home to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, which houses a replica of the whites-only lunch counter at which the protest began.

Check Also

Trump administration rescinds ICE rule on international college students

On Tuesday the Trump administration rescinded a new ...

Top Stories from NCPW

  • News
  • Commentary

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis backs legislation that would declare a widespread class of toxic [...]

Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, was scheduled to be executed today at the Federal Correctional Institute in Te [...]

NC State evaluators warn, however, of basic problems in the program's structure Buoyed by a fav [...]

Julia Pimentel Gudiel came to North Carolina from Guatemala for her children. While her four kids st [...]

The post The GOP’s Back-in-Class or Bust express appeared first on NC Policy Watch. [...]

CHAPEL HILL – Several of my White friends and colleagues have asked me recently what changes are req [...]

For the past month, there has been much said about the current racial climate in America. The eyes o [...]

If ever there was a year in which it is a good thing to be past the midway point, 2020 would appear [...]