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Dallas Reverend Receives Fame, Threats Over Words at Fatal Protest

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Rev. Jeff Hood is a man under fire. He gained national attention as a lead organizer of the Black Lives Matters protest in Dallas and eagerly embraced the media's interest after a gunman killed five officers. But ever since he appeared on Fox News Channel's Megyn Kelly’s show, he’s received dozens of death threats on social media, to go along with the hateful comments. He’s been called “a false prophet,” “a leftist pastor” and “a jihadist.”  

Just before his appearance, Kelly played a clip from the Dallas protest on Thursday evening, showing Hood, who wore his signature white robe, standing among the protest with a bullhorn’s microphone in hand. “I’m going to channel an old preacher that I admire tremendously, Jeremiah Wright,” he says. “And I’m going to say, God damn white America. … White America is a fucking lie. ”

Rev. Wright became infamous for his April 2003 sermon on governments failing their citizens when he said, “They want us to sing, ‘God bless America.’ No, no, no. Not God bless America. God damn America — it’s in the Bible — for killing innocent people.” 

The reaction to Hood's comments on Fox was immediate and his phone frantically vibrated with social media notifications. “As I was telling another reporter what happened, my phone kind of went, Buzz, buzz, buzzbuzzbuzz,” he says. “I knew what it was, and I was just like, ‘Oh my god.’”

Hood is feeling the repercussions of his words at the rally. He says he moved his wife and five children to a family farm in West Texas because of the death threats they’d been receiving. Denton police were patrolling near his home on Monday afternoon.
 Inside, Hood appears fairly composed for a man under siege. His round eyeglasses are polished, his long reddish-brown beard is brushed and his pants are wrinkle-free. Hood does check the window every so often during his interview, as if he expects trouble.  

Hood conducted the interview with Kelly on a street corner in Dallas, not far from where gunfire erupted the previous night. Kelly pointed out that condemning “white America” makes it seem as if he’s also condemning the white officers targeted by a lone racist gunman in Dallas. She reminded him that they had nothing to do with the violence in Louisiana and Minnesota, which prompted the Dallas protest he helped to organize.  “Obviously, what I was saying was that there needs to be an end to white-controlled America,” Hood told Kelly. “There needs to be an end to white dominance in America. We have to come together as one America.”

Despite this media heat, Dallas area figures are sticking by Hood as a legitimate community organizer. 
Dr. Michael Waters, who spoke at the Dallas protest and knows of Hood’s work to end the death penalty, defended him during a phone interview with the Observer.  “Jeff is very passionate about justice,” Waters says. “He is one of the persons that I know who is willing to put his life on the line for justice."  

He also says the media is portraying Hood unfairly. “But in a very soundbite driven society, what is happening to Jeff is the same as Jeremiah Wright concerning America,” he says. “And those words were taken out of context.”

Similar to what he said on Fox, Hood tells the Observer that he now regrets those words he spoke just before the gunman opened fire. But he reserves some scorn for those who are making threats after the appearance on Kelly's show.  “It made me realize just how crazy her viewership is,” he says. 

Asked if he plans on changing his tone or rhetoric in the future, Hood only says, "I plan to follow Jesus."

Yesterday, a professor at SMU told Hood that a writer from The New Yorker is reaching out to interview him. The Reverend pauses, weighing the pros and cons of more media exposure. Then he agrees to do it. 

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