A Tulsa man faces a hate-crime charge on allegations that he sent an intimidating letter to the Islamic Peace Academy and posted a video online showing him desecrating a Quran, court records show. Jesse Quinn Harrison, 33, was charged Tuesday with one count each of transmitting a threatening letter and malicious intimidation or harassment – what Oklahoma statutes call a hate crime.
According to the charges, Harrison is accused of sending a nine-page letter to the Peace Academy, a private school for Muslim children in Tulsa, “with the intent to intimidate.” He also made a video that shows him “smearing pork on the Quran and an Islamic religious figure and grilling those items,” according to the charge. The charge states that the video was made to “produce violence directed to others because of their religious beliefs.”
A man with the same name and Tulsa address as those listed on the charges posted on Facebook a YouTube video that matches the one described in the charges. The 5½-minute video, posted to YouTube on Oct. 1, is attributed there to a “Rockwell Porter” – a name the charges list as an alias for Harrison. The video and a brief anti-Islamic message were posted by Harrison’s account on several additional Facebook pages, including those of the White House and the FBI. On a Dec. 15 Facebook entry, Harrison threatens to “march on the Tulsa Islamic Mosque” on New Year’s Eve.
Muneer Awad, executive director of the Oklahoma Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said he didn’t know any details of the case, but he said more hostile rhetoric toward Islam has recently worked its way into the mainstream. “The rhetoric has not helped,” Awad said. “It has forced people to take an extreme stance.”
However, he said that although any threat should be taken seriously, cases such as Harrison’s are on the fringe. Many non-Muslims in Oklahoma have good relationships with the Muslim community, he said. “Whenever instances like this come up, we always have friends from the non-Muslim community to help,” Awad said.