Anti-Trump protesters have turned to character assassination against a Florida developer because the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency operates out of space he rents to the federal government.
Protesters are labeling developer Chuck Prather of St. Petersburg a “predator” and littering the streets with propaganda about him, Fox News reported.
“They are trying to terrorize me,” he said.
Prather said this latest act was part of a battle that began when protesters started targeting ICE because of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies.
“It all started this summer when a group of folks that were wanting ICE to be abolished vandalized the building. Caused about $10,000 worth of damage,” Prather said, according to WFLA.
Prather, who has rented to the federal government for 21 years, said his agreement is not with ICE.
“You lease it to GSA. I don’t even lease the building to ICE. I lease it to the United States of America. That’s what it says on my lease. That’s my contact, GSA. The Government Services Administration,” he said, noting that he could not get out of his contract if he wanted to.
Protesters then upped the ante.
“They’ve decided to come after me since they can’t seem to be able to change ICE through the proper channels,” he said.
On Wednesday, flyers attacking him were downtown posted around St. Petersburg.
“I was taking my son to school yesterday when my elderly neighbor who walks dogs for a living came up to me and said, ‘I need to talk to you,’” Prather said. “(She said) there are posters all over town. It has a big picture of you and it says that you are a predator. What is going on?’”
The flyers call for a boycott of all of Prather’s businesses, and get very personal.
“Charles ‘Chuck’ Prather of the Birchwood Inn directly profits from sexual violence, physical abuse and the caging of undocumented people in the greater Tampa community. Chuck has earned his wealth through leasing property to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as well as other border control offices,” the flyers say.
It got worse. On Thursday, Prather found posters around his home and “EVICT ICE” painted on the sidewalk.
“This is all about ICE. This is nothing about me being a predator, which I am not,” he said.
Prather said he worries about those who work for him.
“It’s horrifying,” he said. “I have 175 employees. They are completely innocent; their livelihoods are being targeted.”
Weeks before the furor emerged, Prather discussed new plans for a hospitality venture with the St. Petersburg Catalyst. He contrasted that with being the landlord for federal agencies.
“If you build a government building, it’s thrilling — you go from finding a site to designing the building to ultimately turning the keys over to the tenant — and then the excitement is done. Then you just operate your building, which is very mundane,” he said then.
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