Alaskan charged for transphobic notes threatening students

Apr 4, 2023, 10:31 AM

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A children’s book illustrator has been charged in Alaska with terroristic threatening after police allege he posted anti-transgender notes that referenced shooting children.

Mitchell Thomas Watley, 47, did not enter a plea to the felony charge during his first court appearance Monday, the Juneau Empire reported. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 11.

Watley is accused of placing notes in several public locations across Juneau starting Friday, the International Day of Transgender Visibility. The notes were the size of a business card showing an assault rifle and the colors of the transgender flag, the complaint says. “Feeling Cute Might Shoot Some Children,” the text read.

Anti-transgender rhetoric and disinformation followed a mass shooting last week that killed six people at a Nashville Christian school. It came as lawmakers across the country engage in a historic push for more restrictions on trans people’s rights.

Authorities have not shared any evidence linking the shooter’s gender identity to the motive for the attack, which killed three children and three adults.

In Juneau, Alaska’s capital city, the first notes were found Friday in a grocery store and on a bulletin board at a state office building. Others were found Sunday in a Costco store.

“Officers spoke to Mitchell, who said (in essence) that he was in fear of the recent transgender school shooter and took it upon himself to print out and distribute these leaflets,” the complaint against Watley said.

Rexene Finley, the assistant district attorney, called the allegations against Watley serious. “Mr. Watley has targeted our most vulnerable populations,” Finley told the judge.

Juneau schools increased security after the first note was found Friday, and some parents kept their children home.

Police arrested Watley after reviewing security camera footage at Costco that included tracking him to a vehicle in the parking lot and tracing it to him.

Watley is known for illustrating three books, including “I Would Tuck You In” and “You Are Home With Me.”

Finley sought $10,000 bail and conditions including that Watley be ordered to stay away from where children gather, turn in any weapons and undergo a mental health exam.

Judge Kirsten Swanson agreed to the conditions after Watley’s attorney for the hearing, Nicholas Polasky, said he did not know if he would continue to represent Watley after Monday’s hearing.

“I don’t have a comment on it right now,” Polasky said.

If convicted of the felony, he could face up to five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.

United States News

Eugene and Linda Lamie, of Homerville, Ga., sit by the grave of their son U.S. Army Sgt. Gene Lamie...

Associated Press

Biden marks Memorial Day nearly 2 years after ending America’s longest war, lauds troops’ sacrifice

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden lauded the sacrifice of generations of U.S. troops who died fighting for their country as he marked Memorial Day with the traditional wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. Biden was joined by first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff, for the 155th National […]

8 hours ago

FILE - Attorneys and criminal justice advocates stand outside Louisiana's Supreme Court on May 10, ...

Associated Press

Historic acquittal in Louisiana fuels fight to review ‘Jim Crow’ verdicts

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Evangelisto Ramos walked out of a New Orleans courthouse and away from a life sentence accompanying a 10-2 jury conviction, thanks in large part to the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision bearing his name. Ramos v. Louisiana outlawed nonunanimous jury convictions as unconstitutional, with justices on the 6-3 majority acknowledging the […]

1 day ago

Associated Press

Pay per wave: Native Hawaiians divided over artificial surf lagoon in the birthplace of surfing

EWA BEACH, Hawaii (AP) — Brian Keaulana is the quintessential Native Hawaiian waterman, well-known in Hawaii and beyond for his deep understanding of the ocean, gifted with surfing and lifeguarding skills passed down from his big-wave rider father. Now, as one of the islands’ standard-bearers of surfing, Keaulana wants to further boost the sport in […]

1 day ago

FILE — A man checks his footing as he wades through the Morris Canal Outlet in Jersey City, N.J.,...

Associated Press

As rising oceans threaten NYC, study documents another risk: The city is sinking

NEW YORK (AP) — If rising oceans aren’t worry enough, add this to the risks New York City faces: The metropolis is slowly sinking under the weight of its skyscrapers, homes, asphalt and humanity itself. New research estimates the city’s landmass is sinking at an average rate of 1 to 2 millimeters per year, something […]

1 day ago

This undated photo shows the late Army Cpl. Luther H. Story. The Army said Friday, May 19, 2023, th...

Associated Press

‘He’s home’: Missing 73 years, Medal of Honor recipient’s remains return to Georgia

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Soldiers of the 9th Infantry Regiment made a desperate retreat as North Korean troops closed in around them. A wounded, 18-year-old Army Pfc. Luther Herschel Story feared his injuries would slow down his company, so he stayed behind to cover their withdrawal. Story’s actions in the Korean War on Sept. 1, […]

1 day ago

A skeleton in sunglasses sits beside a sign reading "Just waiting for the insurance check," outside...

Associated Press

Struggles continue for thousands in Florida 8 months after Hurricane Ian as new storm season looms

FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Eight months ago, chef Michael Cellura had a restaurant job and had just moved into a fancy new camper home on Fort Myers Beach. Now, after Hurricane Ian swept all that away, he lives in his older Infiniti sedan with a 15-year-old long-haired chihuahua named Ginger. Like hundreds of […]

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.


Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Company looking for oldest air conditioner and wants to reward homeowner with new one

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

Alaskan charged for transphobic notes threatening students