Politics

‘It’s Disgusting’: Former ICE Chief Reacts To Acquittal Of Man Who Offered $500 To Kill An ICE Agent

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Jason Hopkins Immigration and politics reporter
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  • Former ICE acting director Tom Homan blasted a federal jury’s decision to acquit a man who offered hundreds of dollars to anyone who killed an ICE agent, saying it sends the wrong message. 
  • Brandon Ziobroski tweeted in July 2018 that he’d give $500 to anyone willing to murder an ICE agent, prompting law enforcement to arrest him the following month. 
  • The acquittal comes after ICE has faced notable acts of violence over the year, such as a shooting in San Antonio and a left-wing attempt to firebomb a detention center. 

The former chief of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) blasted the acquittal of a man who offered $500 to “anyone” who kills an ICE agent, arguing that the decision sends the wrong message.

“It’s disgusting,” former acting ICE director Tom Homan said in an interview with the Daily Caller News Foundation. “This is clearly a terroristic threat. He’s offering to pay someone to kill somebody else. In any state in the union, I would think, offering someone to kill somebody is a felony. How many cases have you seen where either wives or husbands hire an undercover cop to kill their spouse and they’ve been convicted.”

The comments came after a federal grand jury on Friday acquitted Brandon Ziobrowski, a 35-year-old Cambridge, Massachusetts man who was arrested last year after offering to give hundreds of dollars to anyone who murdered an ICE agent.

“I am broke but I will scrounge and literally give $500 to anyone who kills an ice agent. @me seriously who else can pledge get in on this let’s make this work,” Ziobrowski tweeted in July 2018. He was arrested the following month and charged with the use of interstate commerce to transmit a threat to injure another individual, and faced a potential five years in prison.

A member of ICE and ERO Fugitive Operations teams is pictured during an operation in San Jose

REUTERS/Kate Munsch

The anti-ICE tweet wasn’t the only violent post Ziobrowski made on social media. He also tweeted about slitting the late Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain’s throat, and sent tweets in February 2018 that advocated violence against authorities, according to prosecutors. Twitter ultimately suspended his account in July 2018.

Ziobrowski didn’t deny issuing the tweets, but his attorney argued that they were simply made in jest and a “hyperbolic political statement.”

A Boston federal jury on Friday acquitted him of the charges, brining the year-and-a-half ordeal to a close. Ziobrowski celebrated the decision, saying it “seemed like the right verdict.” The U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, while noting that the federal government “will never hesitate” to pursue threats against law enforcement, said he respected the jury’s decision.

Homan, however, expressed frustration over the verdict.

“I think there’s a different set of rules for places like Boston who have no respect for ICE because they are a sanctuary city, and they make ridiculous rulings,” Homan — who lead the agency from January 2017 to June 2018 — told the DCNF. “That is a terroristic threat. He’s offering to pay someone to kill a law enforcement officer. I just don’t see how that’s freedom of speech.”

“People hate ICE for all the wrong reasons because of false narratives by people like [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, and the rest of these people who push this false narrative about ICE and what they do. People jump on the bandwagon,” the former ICE chief went on.

For Homan, a major concern about the jury’s decision is the message that it sends to people who make these type of statements. As the Department of Justice noted, there were more than 100 law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty in 2019. ICE employees in particular have been subjected to more aggravated rhetoric, and many of them have faced targeted violence in the past. (RELATED: ‘You Work For Me! I’m A Taxpayer!’: Former ICE Chief Spars With Democratic Congresswoman)

In San Antonio, for example, there was an overnight shooting in August that left several windows in an ICE office shattered. FBI investigators later determined that the incident was not the result of a random shooting, but a targeted attack against the agency. In perhaps the most notable example out of the year, a man in July was shot dead by authorities as he attempted to firebomb an ICE detention center in Tacoma, Washington.

A manifesto written by the individual referred to ICE detention centers as “concentration camps,” a comparison first popularized by Ocasio-Cortez.

“It’s only a matter of time before one of these nuts makes a statement like this and there’s actually an ICE agent who’s not going home to his family,” Homan said. “The country has got to take a stand against this stuff.”

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