Federal prosecutors identified the prospective candidate only as “DG” during Thursday’s hearing and in court documents, but African American deacon and activist Don Gathers confirmed in an interview after the hearing that he was the one threatened.
Gathers had printed campaign signs, planned a campaign launch party and sent out a news release announcing his impending candidacy, before abruptly suspending his plans to run for the City Council in January 2019.
Gathers is also co-founder of Charlottesville’s Black Lives Matter chapter and served on a committee dedicated to relocating Confederate statues in the wake of the deadly Unite the Right rally in that city in 2017.
The U.S. attorney’s office for the Western District of Virginia said in a news release that McMahon used a handful of social media accounts with handles such as “Jack Corbin,” “Restore Silent Sam” and “Dakota Stone” to promote white nationalist ideology and express support for racially motivated violence.
The news release said McMahon used the Corbin account on the social media platform Gab to make threats against the prospective candidate. The posts used racial slurs and relied on racial stereotypes.
The defendant used his Restore Silent Sam Facebook page to threaten to sexually assault the daughter of a woman who was active in countering white supremacist protests, the release said. McMahon attempted to extort information from the woman about her fellow activists.
McMahon did not directly address the charges at Thursday’s hearing, speaking only to answer a judge’s questions and request consultations with his own attorney.
Jessica Phillips, an attorney for McMahon, later said she does not comment on pending cases.
Gathers said Thursday that he was “somewhat indifferent” about the guilty plea. He said he was first made aware of the threats by the FBI and did not know McMahon.
“The ideology of white supremacy doesn’t end with this court case,” Gathers said. “I’m anxious to move past this.”
Thursday’s plea hearing was conducted via video conference because of court restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.