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Stuart commissioners concerned about Costco social media post

'It is unacceptable to put that kind of rhetoric out there online,' Commissioner Troy McDonald says
Threatening Facebook post against Stuart commissioner related to Costco decision
Posted at 1:54 PM, Aug 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-17 13:54:04-04

STUART, Fla. — A new Costco store approved this week in Stuart is stirring up some anger among people who fought to keep the wholesale business from coming to Martin County.

Now, a social media post has some commissioners worried about their safety as a result of the vote.

City Commissioner Troy McDonald said Costco was typically a hot topic at meetings.

"The one for the Costco, I would say, was more heated than normal," McDonald said.

Stuart Commissioner Troy McDonald speaks about threatening social media post related to Costco decision
Stuart Commissioner Troy McDonald says he was concerned by the social media post.

He learned that before the meeting this week, Stuart police were made aware of a post in an anti-Costco Facebook group that said the following:

"Bring tar and feathers for the city commissioners? Post their home addresses, pictures of their home addresses, pictures of their cars, license plates, kids, family?"

"[The] first thing I did was call my wife and say, 'Hey, just be a little extra vigilant,' because I'm more concerned about her than myself," McDonald said. "It is unacceptable to put that kind of rhetoric out there online. It puts people in danger and quite honestly, I'm outraged."

Police said they looked into the post but decided it didn't warrant a deeper investigation or criminal charges since the person who made the post didn't actually post the commissioners' personal information.

However, State Rep. John Snyder, R-Stuart, said the state is taking social media threats more seriously moving forward.

State Rep. John Snyder
State Rep. John Snyder says the state is taking social media threats more seriously than in the past.

Newly passed legislation aims to stiffen penalties against people who use social media to maliciously post someone’s personal information.

"Any individual that posts someone's personal, identifiable information online with the purpose to harass or intimidate, that is a first-degree misdemeanor in the state of Florida," Snyder said.

Snyder said it is not only about protecting elected officials, but anyone subjected to online threats, cyberstalking or intimidation.

"Even if it wasn't malicious intent, the potential of causing a copycat or pushing somebody else over the edge is also what concerns me," McDonald said.