He threatened to kill a pro-LGBTQ+ congresswoman. Now he’s paying the price.

Rep. Maxine Waters
FEBRUARY 18, 2019: Representative Maxine Waters speaking to protesters outside of City Hall at the President's Day protest. Photo: Shutterstock

A 61-year-old Houston, Texas man named Brian Michael Gaherty has been fined $10,000 and sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for making racist threats against congressional LGBTQ+ ally Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).

In August 2022, Gaherty called Waters, mentioning her Black race and making racist comments while accusing her of “messing with my people” and threatening to “put a cap” between her eyes, “cut [her] throat,” and “stomp” her, according to The Root. He told her she “better move” because he and his “boys in the area” had an assassination contract on her life.

In November 2022, Gaherty told Waters that she “done f**ked up” because she reported his threats to police, and he threatened to attack law enforcement officers, saying, “This ain’t no threat. It’s a … promise.”

Police arrested Gaherty in August 2023 and charged him with four counts of making threats in interstate communications and four counts of threatening a U.S. official. He pleaded guilty to one count of threatening a U.S. official, and the judge applied a hate-crime enhancement to the sentence because he targeted Waters due to her race.

Gaherty’s attorney, Joseph Vinas, said his client has mental health issues following a “litany of horrible incidents” including being injured on the job, laid off, and being shot in the back. He also pointed out that his client has Black godchildren, five Latina ex-girlfriends, and never traveled to Washington D.C. to follow through on his threats. While being led away by U.S. Marshals, Gaherty told reporters, “Sorry this happened” and added, “I have no hatred in my heart.”

During Gaherty’s sentencing hearing, Waters said, “I’m hopeful that this will be a deterrent to those who believe they can threaten an elected official, threaten to kill us and terrorize us.” She said that, since he made his threats, she is afraid to turn around whenever someone calls her name in case someone tries to publicly identify her for slaughter.

“This growing effort to target people of color and women of color … has given me nightmares,” she said. “I am in fear of my life. I believe that we must all be accountable. Nobody is above the law.”

In 2017, Waters told the Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, D.C. “I have a long relationship in fighting for equality and justice for the LGBTQ community. I’m part of the LGBTQ community, and I’m someone that can be counted on.” Waters spoke to a graduating class of LGBTQ+ high school and college students in 2020.

In a 2023 speech, Waters ripped Republicans for trying to roll back the civil rights of women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ people. In a Pride Month message that year, she wrote, “Happy Pride Month! I will be walking, talking, and participating in civic activities with my friends in the LGBTQ community. I am proud of the progress that we have made, in the LGBTQ community, however, I am worried about the attacks on innocent individuals in the Transgender community and I stand with the LBGTQ community in fighting against discrimination, ignorance, hate, and violence.”

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She was told she had 5 years to live. So she started living as a woman.

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