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Man charged with felony stalking after arrest outside progressive congresswoman’s home

‘This was not about a particular vote … This man wanted to intimidate me, he wanted to threaten me, he wanted to harm me’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Thursday 28 July 2022 19:41 BST
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A 49-year-old man has been charged with felony stalking after he was arrested outside the home of progressive Washington state Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal in Seattle earlier this month.

The suspect, who has been identified as Brett Forsell, was arrested on 9 July after issuing threats stating that he was going to “kill” Ms Jayapal. When he was arrested, he was in possession of a handgun.

Following that incident, Ms Jayapal claimed that Mr Forsell had been following for a period lasting months. She said he threatened her life and used racial slurs against her, The Hill reported.

In a statement on Thursday, Ms Jayapal said that “the news today from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s office that they have charged Mr Forsell with felony stalking demonstrates that the justice system is doing its work”.

Ms Jayapal has said former President Donald Trump’s stoking of political violence was to blame. She previously said that his so-called Muslim ban, the ban on transgender individuals serving in the military, as well as his attempts to overturn the 2020 election all led to anger and violence, such as the actions prompting the arrest of Mr Forsell.

According to a probable cause certificate, officers saw Mr Forsell standing in the street, hands in the air, with a firearm in a holster on the evening of 9 July.

In the statement, an officer said that a neighbour had said that Mr Forsell had yelled “Go back to India, I’m going to kill you”. The neighbour added that they saw his car drive past the residence around three times as he yelled obscenities.

Following the reading of his Miranda rights, Mr Forsell claimed to be acquainted with Ms Jayapal and said he wanted to put up a tent on the property, according to The Hill.

The office of Ms Jayapal said in a statement earlier this month that “she is very grateful for the swift and professional response from the Seattle Police Department, the US Capitol Police, and the FBI investigators who are working together diligently on the investigation, and ensuring that she and her family stay safe”.

She later appeared on MSNBC, saying that “the person that occupied the White House, the highest office in the land, actually used and unleashed and mobilized all of that violence and white supremacy using the tools of the federal government”.

“It is not a coincidence that [Mr Forsell] targeted a prominent woman of colour who has been on the front lines of fighting for a just and equitable society, and has been fighting against white supremacy and racism”, she added.

Ms Jayapal told the cable news network that Mr Trump had created a threatening and violent political environment by putting in place “bans on Muslims, bans on trans folks, calling out people to be racist, working with the most racist, white supremacist, violent extremist groups, including the Oath Keepers and the Proud Boys, and then of course using lies and misinformation, disinformation, to try to steal an election and stage a coup”.

She said that both video and audio recording from the incident reveals “incredible anger and hatred”, adding that the threats “were racist, they were sexist, they were xenophobic”.

“This was not about a particular vote … This man wanted to intimidate me, he wanted to threaten me, he wanted to harm me”, she said.

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