A North Carolina man has been arrested for threatening prominent South Carolina attorney, former state representative and civil rights attorney Bakari Sellers.
According to a news release from the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), 48-year-old Edward Olson Jr. of Asheville, N.C. was taken into custody on Friday (April 8, 2022). Olson was charged with stalking and assault or intimidation due to political opinions or (the) exercise of civil rights.
SLED’s release did not identify Sellers by name, but the 37-year-old Bamberg, S.C. native confirmed to this news outlet that he was the target of Olson’s alleged threats and intimidation.
“Grateful for SLED,” Sellers told me, singling out the work of chief Mark Keel, investigator Mike Prodan and executive affairs director Ryan Alphin. “It was necessary to take seriously. I have wonderful little ones – have to protect them.”
According to a probable cause affidavit accompanying the warrant for Olson’s arrest, he sent approximately 65 messages to Sellers on Instagram which “contained racial slurs,” referenced the “killing of Afro-Americans/ blacks” and indicated that he (Olson) “was armed.”
“These messages were sent to intimidate (Sellers) because of his political opinions and exercise of his civil rights as an attorney representing clients, his political commentary on social and televised media and (his status) as a registered lobbyist,” the affidavit continued.
The communications “show no legitimate purpose” and have “caused (Sellers) to fear death, assault or bodily injury for himself and his family members.”
An attorney at the Strom Law Firm, Sellers represented Bamberg County in the S.C. House of Representatives from 2006-2014. A former CNN commentator, three years ago he founded Opportunity Project SC, a group which exists to “close the gaps plaguing South Carolina communities in quality-of-life areas including health care, education and technology.”
As with anyone accused of committing any crime, Olson is considered innocent until proven guilty by our criminal justice system – or until such time as he may wish to enter some form of allocution in connection with a plea agreement with prosecutors related to any of the charges that have been filed against him.
According to the probable cause affidavit, though, he has “admitted to sending the messages.” Which means a plea agreement of some sort is likely imminent.
Olson was booked at the Alvin S. Glenn detention center in Richland County, S.C. His case will be prosecuted by the office of S.C. fifth circuit solicitor Byron Gipson.
Needless to say, this news outlet condemns threats of violence – irrespective of what motivated them. Speech is free, but death threats must always come with a price for those who make them.
Especially when those issuing the threats make clear they have the means to carry them out …
RELEASE/ AFFIDAVITS …
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children. Oh, and unlike some leaders in the S.C. General Assembly, he knows how to tie a Windsor knot.
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