Former Congressman Allen West has issued a "warning" to Florida Atlantic University students, writing on his Facebook page that if they continue their meetings and protests of his wife's board of trustees office, "you will face me, the side of me that you do not want to see."
West's wife, Angela Graham-West, was appointed to the FAU board by Gov. Rick Scott's office in May 2011. Since that time the board has faced a number of student protests and media storms, notably the recent dispute over whether their university stadium should grant naming rights to GEO Group, one of the largest operators of for-profit prisons and the focus of several lawsuits and federal investigations.
University students say that their approach of alerting the media, meeting with university officials and staging campus protests was effective. GEO Group withdrew its bid for the naming rights to the stadium. In the meantime, other issues have prompted the students to "express their discontent through peaceful assembly," such as proposed hikes in fees and increases in housing rates. The students have attended board of trustees meetings, protested outside the university administration building and sent letters seeking appointments with board members.
While the students have not yet been successful in getting an appointment with Mrs. West, they did get the attention of Congressman West, who posted "an advisory notice" to his Facebook page:
I am warning you, end your harassment of my wife Angela. ... This is not a threat, it is a promise that if Angela calls and tells me of one more incident, you will face me, the side of me that you do not want to see. ... How dare you animals attack my wife and her professional reputation. This is your one and only advisory notice.
Within 24 hours of the message being posted, nearly 30,000 people "liked" the post, and over 6,000 people commented on it, including:
Rod Jerkins: "Col. West, I for one will stand with you."
Jeremy Bliller: "Tell me where to go and who."
Sam Kaufman: "Congressman: I'm a combat vet with a lot of time on my hands. You need to put a team together, you let me know!"
Ron Hubers: "I have your 'six' if you need it, Sir!"
Rodney Fowler: "I think a Glock 9MM should get the job done."
Eddie Spraggs: "Lock and LOAD Colonel!!"
Stephanie Rosendorf, a senior at FAU, filed a police report stating that she feels threatened by the words of the former congressman. "I'm shocked by this," she says. "Even if he doesn't physically do anything to us, you never know what kind of people read this and what kind of actions they might take."
Since Rosendorf filed that report, people have posted her personal information, including her home address and her parents' address, as well as sending threatening and sexually explicit messages to her social media accounts.
Two other students, who asked to remain anonymous due to safety concerns, say that they have also received threats, including one attempt by Mrs. West to have a student arrested at the public board of trustees meeting held on April 16.
"We are students who pay tuition at a public university," he says. "It is inappropriate for her to use university resources to harass students. The university should issue a public statement calling for an end to this behavior and reaffirming their students' rights to free speech."
Lisa Metcalf, Director of Media Relations for Florida Atlantic University, says, "We have been made aware of what is happening, and we are looking into the situation."
More on this story as it develops.