SAG-AFTRA Condemns Matthew Modine Rep's Retweet of Death Threat Against Gabrielle Carteris

Gabrielle Carteris - Getty - H 2019
Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for Turner

“Let’s get rid of her once and for all!” read the tweet, which included a gif with an assault rifle battle and was “liked” and retweeted by MembershipFirst and publicist Adam Nelson.

The SAG-AFTRA presidential election ended Aug. 29 in a victory for incumbent Gabrielle Carteris, but in a grim underscore to a fractious battle, the spokesman for runner-up Matthew Modine retweeted a death threat against Carteris on Saturday, accompanied by a gif depicting a shootout between men wielding assault rifles.

The tweet was also retweeted by the account belonging to MembershipFirst, the opposition party that ran Modine and has long opposed Carteris’ Unite for Strength party. Adam Nelson, the spokesman for Modine, subsequently apologized.

“Let’s get rid of her once and for all!” read the text of the tweet, accompanied by an image of a man pointing a firearm at the viewer. Seconds later, he fires, apparently killing several armed attackers.

Both the MF and Nelson accounts also “liked” the tweet. The retweets and original tweet have since been deleted, but The Hollywood Reporter was nonetheless able to link to and record the original tweet, posted by @daria_rumi — an account that identifies as belonging to an actress named Daria Rumi and links to an IMDb record of the same name. The account has 905 followers. 

The union responded in a statement, and also a message to board members (see below).

“We are aware of the threat in question and we take this kind of conduct seriously,” said SAG-AFTRA national executive director David White. “We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior. This kind of activity can trigger tremendous fear and apprehension in our unique environment as many of our members have direct experience with being stalked and threatened during their careers. In an era of heightened scrutiny over threats in the workplace and public settings, we take each and every threat seriously and will respond aggressively to protect our members and employees.”

UFS and its New York affiliate USAN responded as well.

“To say that we are shocked and appalled is an understatement,” the two groups said in a statement. “They have broken trust and forsaken the personal safety of a SAG-AFTRA member volunteer to score political points. Regardless of any attempted damage control after the fact, it is simply inexcusable that a campaign would ever consider promoting this incitement of violence. Especially at a time in our country when the threat of gun violence is all too real. We will not back down in the face of hate. This is further proof of how important our union is to protecting the health, well-being, and safety of all members.”

“We sincerely apologize for the retweet which was performed in error and is expressly not a shared opinion,” said Nelson in a statement and tweet. “The retweet has since been undone, and MembershipFirst affirmatively advocates only nonviolent protest of any election violations by Ms. Carteris.”

@MembershipFirst, @daria_rumi and longtime MF leader David Jolliffe did not respond to repeated requests for comment. However, in an exchange forwarded to THR by a third party, @daria_rumi said, “Don’t use what I post against Membership First!!!! If you want to attack me, go for it.”

The election that ended about 10 days ago was extraordinarily contentious, even for SAG-AFTRA, and harkened back to 2008, when MF last controlled the pre-merger SAG and had stalemated negotiations with the major studios and was locked in a fiery war with AFTRA. The newly formed UFS ran that year on a platform of restarting talks, replacing the national executive director, and merging the two unions. The newcomers won, and by 2009 had gained effective control of the union, hired White as NED and restarted the stalled talks. The merger followed in 2012.

MF has been out of power for a decade, but a combination of events — including the departure several years ago of UFS’ founders, Ned Vaughn and Amy Aquino — gave the group new energy this year. The election was marked by fierce rhetoric online that included a widely distributed 37-page letter from a self-described independent running on the MF slate that targeted certain UFS leaders as “corrupt” and a “cancer” on the union. Heightening the battle were apparently unlawful employer contributions to Modine, MF and, separately, to a local slate in Atlanta that generally votes with UFS.

The ultimate result was a somewhat split decision that could foreshadow an MF victory in the next election, two years hence. UFS won the presidency and secretary-treasurer position, and retained control of the national board, but MF won 13 of 16 national board seats that were up for election in Los Angeles, and dominated the election for the Los Angeles local board, which they now control. In addition, several parties have filed protests of the election with the union.

Read David White’s email to the board:

Dear board members:

It has come to our attention that elected leaders have been threatened. The threats range from one leader who was approached, verbally assaulted and then followed by a fellow member, to the most recent example of certain members asserting via social media posts that we should “get rid of” our president “once and for all" accompanied by a violent video GIF depicting someone shooting up a room full of people.

This is unacceptable and must stop. While our union is a democracy and we fully support the right to free speech, we have an absolute zero tolerance for this kind of conduct. Bullying, harassment, and violent verbal and written attacks will not be tolerated. This is particularly the case as many of our members have faced the damaging experience of being stalked and even attacked during their careers.

In an age when violence in the workplace and in public settings is something our entire nation is grappling with, there is simply no place in our union for bullying, violent discourse and threats of harm.

If you or someone you know is aware of this kind of conduct, please report it to the union immediately. If you see something, say something. To those who have filed reports, thank you for remaining alert and taking action to notify the union of those instances of threatening misconduct. We all deserve to live in an environment free from this kind of aggression and harassment.

I will have more to say about this when our governing bodies meet in the coming weeks. In the meantime be safe, be vigilant and immediately report any inappropriate aggression to the union.

In solidarity and looking forward,