These threats have been reported to police.
Vick was set to sign copies of his book, “Michael Vick: Finally Free” at three Barnes and Noble locations: in Atlanta, New Jersey and Exton, Pa. All have been cancelled because of safety concerns. The Atlanta appearance was scheduled for this Saturday.
“While we stand by Michael Vick’s right to free speech and the retailers’ right to free commerce, we cannot knowingly put anyone in harm’s way, and therefore we must announce the cancellation of Mr. Vick’s book-signing appearances,” said Byron Williamson, president of Worthy Publishing. “We’ve been assured these threats of violence, which have been reported to the police, are being taken very seriously by local authorities.”
There has been a recent uptick in what a source close to Vick calls “credible threats of violence” directed toward the Eagles quarterback and his family.
The bookstore’s Facebook page has been flooded with comments protesting the appearances. The same is true for Vick’s fan page. In many instances, it goes well beyond protesting. Vick and his family have been threatened on a number of occasions.
Some recent examples:
“I would go there to slit your throat knowing how you treat animals.”
“hope your kids don’t fall in a pool with a battery.”
“I would snap your neck if I met you, your [sic] a piece of trash.”
It goes on and on.
There has been plenty of hostility directed towards Vick since re-entering the public forum following a 19-month prison stint for his involvement in a dog-fighting ring. While he now faces less opposition overall, the tone has been more violent recently, according to a source close to Vick.
“This is a small number of Hate Groups who have turned to terroristic threats,” said the source.
In October, Vick conceded that he had become a dog owner again once his probation was up. There has been a recent backlash to photos showing Vick attending dog training classes at an area Pet Smart.
“I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet,” said Vick back in October. “As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God’s creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family. This is an opportunity to break the cycle. To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change.”
Despite the recent examples of hatred, Vick has come a long way in restoring his public image, thanks in large part to his community outreach efforts. He partnered with the Humane Society to lead an anti-dog-fighting campaign, and has worked on a more personal level — often away from the cameras — with high-risk youth to try and make a positive impact. His coaches and teammates paint the picture of a man who has turned his life around and is trying to do the right thing.
Around 1,000 people had RSVP’d to attend Saturday’s signing in Atlanta. Vick planned on donating NIKE gear to a local VFW during his signing in Exton on the 26th. His team is working on the details to move forward with the donation.
“Michael Vick has millions of fans and has countless letters from teachers thanking him for inspiring students to make positive changes,” said Chris Shigas with Vick’s long-time PR firm French/West/Vaughan. “It is disturbing that a few extremists would threaten Vick’s family and store employees.”