A defender of Arizona Representative David Stringer sent an unhinged racist rant to the East Valley chapter of the NAACP, angry over the organization's call for a boycott of Prescott businesses following Stringer's latest bigoted remarks.
In the letter dated December 12, Tony Imbronone wrote, "You're going to boycott Prescott? That's good news! That means we will be seeing fewer Democrats + fewer n*****s and that means less crime and less stink!"
Imbronone included an image of East Valley NAACP President Roy Tatem, scrawling above it, "How did you get this gorilla into a suit?!"
In an interview, Tatem said that after he received the letter from his secretary on Tuesday, he decided to share it on social media. It's not the first time he has received a hateful message, but this letter felt unique, Tatem said.
"This was probably the most angry letter that I’ve received, and it also had an attachment with my picture on it. When I saw that, it startled me a little bit," Tatem said. "It made me think, this may not be just a regular angry letter. This guy could be dangerous here.”
When the letter began circulating widely on social media on Wednesday, people expressed their support for Tatem. They also expressed their disgust with Imbronone in comments posted to a Facebook page associated with Imbronone's Chino Valley firearms business.
Stringer's pattern of racist comments have spurred calls for his resignation from the House, which so far he has ignored.
Last summer, Stringer bemoaned a lack of "white kids" in Arizona schools. And while speaking to Arizona State University students last month, Stringer said that black people "don't blend in" to society, in comments captured in a recording obtained by Phoenix New Times. Leaders from Governor Doug Ducey to Prescott Mayor Greg Mengarelli have formally called for Stringer's resignation.
Voters in Legislative District 1 re-elected Stringer, a Republican, to a second term in November.
Earlier this month, the East Valley NAACP called for the boycott of Prescott businesses.
In a letter to Arizona House Speaker-elect Rusty Bowers on December 5, Tatem wrote, "Until Rep. Stringer is removed from office, the NAACP will recommend a travel advisory on the City of Prescott advising our members, supporters and allies to discontinue any shopping, travel, and lodging in hotels in Prescott, AZ effective immediately.”
In his handwritten racist screed, Imbronone wrote that the NAACP should boycott the entire country "since there are plenty of intellectually honest people all over the U.S. who know that what David Stringer said is true."
Campaign finance records show that Imbronone donated $50 to Stringer's re-election campaign committee on August 31.
Reached by phone on Wednesday afternoon, Imbronone refused to answer questions about the letter when a reporter identified himself.
"Phoenix New Times, you mean that underground left-wing socialist rag piece of shit that pretends to be a newspaper, it's that what you're talking about?" Imbronone said. "Dumbass," he added, and hung up.
Reached via phone for a second time, Imbronone again refused to acknowledge sending the letter and immediately started yelling. "You're a fraud!" he said. "Listen, you got any extra copies of New Times laying around, I need something to wipe my ass with!"
A website lists Imbronone as the proprietor of a firearms training and gunsmithing business called Orion Arms, located in Chino Valley. "Orion Arms is operated by principle Tony Imbronone, who boasts decades of experience in many phases of the industry, including gunsmithing, instruction, appraisal and legal consultation," the website states.
A Facebook page for what appears to be another enterprise run by Imbronone, Rough Rider Arms (the page has the same number and address as Orion Arms) started receiving comments and one-star reviews from people horrified by Imbronone's virulent letter.
"The owner is a very hateful individual, and you should be careful if you hire him. He is very vindictive, spiteful, and mentally unstable. Take precaution!" one person wrote.
"If you're fine giving your money to a blatant, ignorant racist, this is your kind of place," another wrote.
Other people expressed support and solidarity with Tatem and the NAACP in the face of the hateful letter.
Attorney and former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Deedra Abboud wrote on her Facebook page, "Mr. Imbronone is defending the racist comments of Rep. Stringer and taking them to the next hateful level."
"If Rep. Stringer doesn't agree with his 'defender,' he has a social responsibility to speak out against Mr. [Imbronone] and his up-leveled racist rant — as do the GOP members of any elected office in the state," Abboud added.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
Stringer's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
After he received the letter and shared it online, Tatem said that the FBI contacted him via email; he believes someone may have contacted the bureau on his behalf. Tatem expects to schedule a time to meet with the authorities in the next couple of days to discuss things that he should do or be aware of, he said.
Tatem said that he wishes Stringer would take responsibility for his words and positions, which are "clearly creating a dangerous environment," he said.
"He’s not a unifying force in Arizona, and I think it sets a horrible example to our political body and it sets a horrible example to our children," Tatem said.