Former Augusta Commission candidate and Harrisburg community activist Butch Palmer has really stepped in it this time.
Earlier this week, Palmer was arrested by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office on one felony count of Terroristic Threats and Acts, accused of posting threats on Facebook against Augusta commissioners.
According to a case report by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, Augusta Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle notified the sheriff’s office on Monday, Sept. 24, that Palmer had posted threatening messages via social media aimed at the commissioners.
Palmer is accused of posting the following entry to the Augusta Political Watch feed from Facebook:
“Get rid of Mercy Ministries and the Crack houses and downtown will bloom on its own!”
Then, the tone of the post quickly became much darker.
“Start by splitting each commissioner’s throats with a box cutter and make sure that they bleed out before any chance of survival,” the post read. “Would I like to see the Augusta commission snuffed out? Yes, I would!”
Guilfoyle said he contacted the sheriff’s office because he takes “all threats seriously.”
Sgt. Daniel Madden of the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office met with Palmer after reviewing the posts.
According to the case report, Palmer said he “used the wrong choice of words for the post,” but that “he would never harm anyone.”
Madden then charged Palmer with one felony count of Terroristic Threats and Acts and Palmer was taken to the Charles B. Webster Detention Center.
The sad truth is, this is not the first time Palmer has made questionable remarks regarding members of the local government.
Back in 2010, just after then-Augusta Mayor Deke Copenhaver handily beat opponents Lori Davis and Gil Gilyard in the mayoral election by claiming about 65 percent of the votes, Palmer quickly began spewing trashy comments aimed at Copenhaver.
Apparently, Palmer couldn’t accept the defeat of his preferred candidate Lori Davis and decided to take his anger out on the mayor.
“The Augusta-Richmond County people have spoken loud and clear. They want drug houses and chaos. Apparently, the problem is much bigger than we thought. Scary,” Palmer posted on his Facebook page in 2010. “Congratulations to everyone who voted for Deke. You drank the Deke Aid! This reminds me of another tragic time in history when another charismatic leader who also had a speech impediment convinced them to drink the Kool Aid.”
Palmer then posted a statement that raised many eyebrows around town.
“Flu takes out thousands of people each year. If Deke dies, Lori takes office!!!” Palmer posted in 2010. “Can you imagine the news clips that they would use for his memorial? Hundreds of meaningless bits of bull shit such as ribbon cuttings!”
When some people told Palmer that it wasn’t nice to suggest that it would be good if Copenhaver got sick and died, Palmer defended his statements.
“Disease has played a role in politics throughout history,” he wrote in 2010. “It is difficult to be ‘NICE’ when I live within a stones throw of known drug houses. One of them has been in business for more than decade. Life isn’t ‘nice’ all of the time.”
Palmer also took a video driving on a public street outside of the mayor’s home and then made another post encouraging people to join him in protesting the mayor’s re-election.
“Encourage anyone who you know who has a booming car to ride down Broad Street to celebrate Dekes’ reelection,” he wrote. “Celebrate ugly!”
While a lot of people can get frustrated with the local government, particularly the Augusta Commission, threats against commissioners or the mayor have absolutely no place in the Garden City.
Palmer went way too far this week in posting his gruesome threats against the commissioners, and he now must face a felony charge.
Let that be a serious lesson to others out there who want to criticize the local government.
You can call commissioners all sorts of names and condemn their actions. That’s your right as an American citizen.
But as soon as it becomes threatening, you have changed the rules of the game.
You have now become the threat, and you must face the consequences of your actions.
The lesson here is this: Feel free to speak your mind, but stay civil or you may find yourself in jail.