Grisly hanging of Census worker: an antigovernment act?
FBI is investigating worker's death in Kentucky. Is crime-scene reference to 'fed' a clue or a feint?
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In fact, a retired state trooper had warned Mr. Sparkman that not everybody may look kindly upon a government proxy walking the rural routes near Manchester, Ky.
The discovery of Sparkman's body Sept. 12 in the deep woods of eastern Kentucky – hanging from a tree with the word "fed" scrawled on his chest – not only is a grim reminder of the everyday risks that door-to-door workers face on the job. It also has the government again worried that disaffection and anger with Washington may be morphing into extremism, even domestic terrorism, and may be directed at government representatives. Sparkman's death has been called "an apparent homicide."
Judging from reports so far, the apparent murder "may [have] political motivation," says James Alan Fox, a veteran criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston. "But although a lot of Americans are disenchanted with the economy the way it is, and there's lots of anger, we shouldn't be quick to jump to conclusions to somehow say that this is now open season on government workers. It absolutely isn't."
"If this is an attack on a federal employee, I can assure you that no resources will be spared to find the perpetrators," John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, said Thursday morning, according to the Washington Post. "We cannot tolerate essentially domestic terrorism, if that is what it is."
Government officials and law enforcement personnel are already on alert after a series of incidents this spring and summer that fell into the domestic terrorism category, including the shooting of a guard at the Holocaust Memorial in Washington.
As the Census Bureau gets ready to employ some 1.2 million people to canvas the US for the 2010 census next year, news of Sparkman's death is raising concerns for workers' safety. The Census Bureau has already suspended operations in rural Clay County, where Sparkman died.