On Wednesday, a Contra Costa County judge refused to reduce bail for a Richmond man who is facing hate crime charges and who the media have described as a “Donald Trump supporter” on the basis of his Facebook posts–even though he also admired Hillary Clinton.
The mayor, Tom Butt, blamed Trump indirectly for inciting William Celli, 55, allegedly to threaten a local mosque and to build a bomb at his house that police later determined was fake.
“Clearly, this threat had been influenced by the hateful and divisive rhetoric that is being used on a national level by presidential candidates,” Butt said in an official statement. “I encourage everyone to push back on the reactionary elements in our society that can culminate in thoughts of violence and promote discrimination.”
Mainstream media reports blamed Trump, citing Facebook posts in which Celli had praised the Republican presidential contender. However, those reports omitted that Celli also said in October that Hillary Clinton “Would make a great president.”
The Facebook posts cited in the media also date to October 2015–long before Trump had commented on Muslim immigration in the wake of the Nov. 13 Paris terror attack or the Dec. 2 San Bernardino attack. There is no evidence yet that Celli cited or referred to Trump when he allegedly threatened a local mosque or local Muslims.
The prosecutor, coincidentally named Derek Butts, said that Celli “essentially threatened people’s lives…of the Muslim faith,” and suggested the threats were made in response to the San Bernardino terror attacks, according to the Contra Costa Times. The judge raised bail to $200,000, saying: “This is a hate crime, and I’m not going to reduce bail….This man is going to remain in custody,” the Times reported.
Celli had shared photographs of Muslims leaving a local mosque, as well as of a fake bomb he claimed to have built, on Facebook. A Facebook friend alerted authorities.