Profile in civility: Teen who said he’d kill Rep. Curbelo joins him in call for unity

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By Martin Vassolo, Miami Herald, November 2, 2018 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments

As politicians everywhere have called for tolerance amid a wave of violence ahead of the midterm elections, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo took political civility to new heights on Thursday by standing beside the man who just last week threatened to kill him.

 

A week after the FBI arrested a teenager from Homestead for saying he would kill Curbelo, the lawmaker and his 19-year-old constituent held a joint press conference during which Curbelo publicly forgave the man, saying he had fallen “into the trap of violent political speech and hateful expression” festering in the country’s political landscape and had no intention of carrying out his threat.

 

Curbelo, who is running for reelection in Florida’s 26th Congressional district, said the man, Pierre Alejandro Verges-Castro, had apologized for threatening him on Twitter and that he didn’t want the incident to “ruin” Verges-Castro’s life.

 

 “I’m pretty sure he had no idea how serious what he had done was,” Curbelo said. “He does now. I’m grateful to him for being willing to not just learn a lesson himself, but to stand with me here today and to share what has been a difficult experience.”

 

 

“During our conversation, I asked Pierre what led him to express himself in such a hateful way. He mentioned some issues he had in his past. He also mentioned the toxic political culture of our times,” Curbelo said. “While none of this excuses what Pierre did, putting his actions in context makes them easier to understand. We simply cannot continue down this path.”

 

Curbelo lamented the vilification of opposing politicians in public discourse and in political advertising.

 

“Let us be respectful and sober in our conversations, our debates, and especially in our social media interactions. Let us reject the voices that seek to divide and conquer, those who put personal and political gain before the good of the country. Let us again be a confident, happy, trusting people and a beacon for all in the world who believe in freedom and democracy,” he said.

 

“And as for Pierre, I wish him the best. He made a mistake, and his life shouldn’t be ruined because of it. I truly believe in second chances. I am hopeful Pierre will become a model citizen who is now in a unique position to be a part of the force for healing that our community and our country so desperately need.”

 

Read more here.

 

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