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Councilman Van Bramer says Long Island City restaurateur sent 'threat' over Amazon opposition

The "disgusting" message represented "several threats rolled into one," the councilman said.

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer tears up a

City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer tears up a mailer he received from Amazon touting its once-planned Long Island City headquarters at a rally on the steps of City Hall in January.  Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

The owner of a barbecue restaurant in Long Island City may have gotten himself into some hot water after apparently sending a hostile text message to Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer over the failed Amazon HQ2 deal.

Van Bramer, a vocal opponent of Amazon’s plan to build a headquarters in his district along the Queens waterfront, tweeted a screenshot on Friday of a text message purportedly from Josh Bowen that demands the councilman call an Amazon executive and apologize.

“You can be at the back of the parade or in front of the firing squad. If they come back, ya’ll may get elected dog catcher,” the message reads. “If they don’t you’re in the history books. Call now and I can stop the growing forces that will end councilman VanJobkillers career.”

Note: The following tweet contains profanity.

The "disgusting" message represented "several threats rolled into one," Van Bramer wrote. "Demanding an elected official make a call to Amazon by a certain time - or else... I don’t respond to threats."

Bowen, who owns John Brown Smokehouse, appears to have confirmed he sent the message to Van Bramer on the restaurant’s Twitter account.

John Brown Smokehouse retweeted Van Bramer’s screenshot, adding: “Yep, I told MY councilman to call on behalf of the MAJORITY of his constituents and you get the @JimmyVanBramer scum bag treatment. No surprise here. Have fun running for dog catcher.”

The incident has been reported to the NYPD for further investigation, according to a source. The NYPD did not immediately return a request for confirmation that a complaint had been received.

Bowen has been among some of the most vocal proponents of Amazon since the deal that Amazon says would have eventually brought 25,000 high-paying jobs to the area has soured. He recently traveled to Seattle to meet with Amazon executives in an attempt to woo the retail giant back to his neighborhood. He also was among the dozens of politicians and community stakeholders who signed an open letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking him to reconsider his decision.

In another tweet on Friday, Bowen appeared to have softened his tone a bit, admitting that he may have been “overly harsh” in his wording but adding that Van Bramer “sold us out.”

“If anyone perceived it as a threat of violence, that’s absurd. If you perceived it as his career is over if he doesn’t do what his constituents want, I will take that criticism. Jimmy being a victim is all he’s got at this point,” a subsequent tweet reads.

A request for comment directly from Bowen was not immediately returned.


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