New York State Police have been called to investigate online threats made to state Senate candidate Sara Niccoli, after she refused to recite the Pledge of Allegiance due to her Quaker faith.
Quakerism is a denomination of Christianity that prevents followers from making any sort of oath, including the Pledge of Allegiance. Although Niccoli stands during the pledge, she does not actively participate, according to The Associated Press.
An anonymous online Facebook attack page, titled "The REAL Sara Niccoli" claimed that it is unacceptable and un-American for Niccoli to abstain from the pledge, according to the Times Union.
"Tell Sara Niccoli to honor America!" read a June 29 post.
"She is not a patriot," read one of the comments, according to AP. "She should be thrown out of whatever position she holds. Then put on a terrorist watch list."
Republican Neil Yerdon and Democrat Hank Vandenburgh, board members from the town of Palatine, wrote a letter calling for a police investigation of these posts, saying that some comments are "specific threats against Sara's life."
State police are currently reviewing the request but did not comment on whether they will investigate, reports AP. The Facebook page in question has since been deleted.
"Due to the heightened political rhetoric and charged atmosphere, these threats must be taken seriously and should be investigated by the appropriate authorities," Yerdon and Vandenburgh wrote in their letter, according to Times Union. "We have seen too many tragedies involving elected officials and candidates for office to ignore these very real and explicit threats made against Ms. Niccoli."
Niccoli herself believes the page was set up by her opponent in the senatorial race, Republican Sen. George Amedore, AP reports.
"This is coming from his backers and it's dangerous," said Niccoli. "It incites violence. It oppresses religious freedom. I'm not going to be bullied."
Amedore denies any involvement in the attack page.
"Nobody should be attacked for practicing their religious beliefs. If she doesn't recite the Pledge based on that, it's her choice," he said in a statement. "I personally choose to so I can show my respect for the veterans and the service men and women who fight and have fought for our country, and to give thanks for the blessings that God has given this nation."