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Wichita Mayor Says He Appreciates Community Support After He Is Threatened

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Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple thanked the community for its support after police arrested a man Friday for allegedly threatening his life.

“Chelsea (Whipple’s wife), the boys, & I appreciate the kind thoughts & prayers,” Whipple said in a statement on his Facebook page. “We also would like to thank the brave men & women of the Wichita Police who protect not just us, but our entire community.

“Violence is never a way to settle disagreements. We're always stronger together as a City even when times are at their toughest. Tensions maybe high, but we will get through this together as Wichitans.”

Mayor Brandon Whipple

Police said Meredith Dowty was arrested on suspicion of criminal threat. Records show Dowty, 59, was booked into the Sedgwick County Jail about 6 p.m. Friday.

Police said they began an investigation after they were contacted about threats made via text message against Whipple.

Whipple said during a Facebook Live event Saturday that the detailed threats were “pretty horrendous.” They indicated the person wanted to “execute a plan that would have resulted in harm,” Whipple said.

He told The Wichita Eagle on Friday that the person was unhappy over the city’s mask mandate and was going to “kidnap me and slash my throat.”

Whipple, who was elected mayor last November, said he has previously received death threats.

“That’s normal,” he said on Facebook Live. “I signed up for that, and that’s OK. That’s part of my role.

“In the end though, until I’m voted out or until I am actually successfully assassinated, I will continue to be mayor. I will continue to do what I’m supposed to do with updates, with policy. I will not stop.”

The Wichita City Council, led by Whipple, passed an ordinance in July that required people to wear a mask or face covering when out in public. People who ignored the law could be ticketed.

The move came after Sedgwick County commissioners stopped short of a strict mandate and instead recommended that people wear a mask. The county has since passed a stronger mandate, and the city’s mask ordinance is set to expire Wednesday.

People who opposed the mask order have spoken at City Council and County Commission meetings to voice their displeasure.

The threats against Whipple are at least the second incident where an elected official who supported a mask mandate has been threatened.

Several men in Michigan are under arrest after being accused in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, storm the Capitol in Lansing and start a civil war. They planned to put her on trial and then execute her.

Whitmer, a Democrat, put the state under a strict lockdown to fight the coronavirus. She has sparred with President Donald Trump, who thinks her orders are an example of government overreach.

Whipple also is a Democrat, although the Wichita mayor’s position is non-partisan.

Wichita Police say the investigation continues. Detectives will present their findings to the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office.

Tom joined KMUW in 2017 after spending 37 years with The Wichita Eagle where he held a variety of reporting and editing roles. He also is host of The Range, KMUW’s weekly show about where we live and the people who live here. Tom is an adjunct instructor in the Elliott School of Communication at Wichita State University.