Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Minnesota Resident Pleads Guilty to Threatening Two Clinics that Provide Reproductive Health Services
Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division and U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger of the District of Minnesota announced today that Michael John Harris, 33, pleaded guilty to making telephonic threats to two clinics that provide reproductive health services in Minneapolis.
In connection with his plea, Harris admitted that on May 12, 2014, he made telephonic threats to two different health clinics in Minneapolis that provide reproductive health services. In his call to the first clinic, Harris threatened to kill the person on the other end of the call using his bare hands, and then cut the person’s head off with a band saw. In his call to the second clinic, Harris said he would kill the person on the other end of the call and everyone else who worked there, and that he was going to travel to the clinic and shoot everyone present. Harris admitted that he made these threats to intimidate people from obtaining or providing reproductive health services.
“Harris’s violent threats against clinics that provide reproductive health services constitute a serious attack on an important right guaranteed by law,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Gupta. “The Justice Department will continue to vigorously prosecute those who seek to interfere with access to reproductive health care.”
“Our Constitution allows for a healthy debate on important issues of public concern,” said U.S. Attorney Luger. “Threatening the lives of health care workers is not a legitimate means of voicing dissent. Today’s guilty plea serves as an important reminder that our disagreements cannot devolve into violent threats.”
Harris faces a maximum penalty of one year in prison for each of the two counts.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, and is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Risa Berkower of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda M. Sertich of the District of Minnesota.