Freeze criticism of ICE?

A Cambridge resident was arrested Thursday morning in New York City for allegedly tweeting that he would pay $500 to anyone who killed an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.

Today’s Boston Herald goes all in on the story, putting it on its front-page and featuring a newspaper editorial and column by Joe Battenfeld on the story. The gist of the Herald news story, as well as a Boston Globe story that appears on the front of its Metro section: There’s a bright line between offering heated opinion opposing something like ICE practices and making threats that constitute crimes.

“There is a point in which rhetoric veers into irresponsible and sometimes criminal acts,” US Attorney Andrew Lelling said in announcing the arrest of Brandon James Ziobrowski. Lelling said the case was part of a “rising trend upwards” of threats against law enforcement officers, especially immigration officials. “Feeling strongly on this subject is fine. Putting peoples’ lives in danger, not fine,” Lelling said of the debate over immigration policy.

But the Herald editorial and Battenfeld column seem to suggest that line is actually not so bright. Indeed, the headline on the paper’s editorial on the Ziobrowski arrest doesn’t even mention the 33-year-old Cantabrigian, but instead spotlights another Cambridge resident: “Watch your words, Liz Warren,” it reads.

It quotes from Warren speeches ripping ICE policies under the Trump administration for putting “children in cages” and ripping families apart, a moment she called “a moral crisis for our country.”

“There is a moral crisis in our country, and recklessly vilifying those who protect us on the border as brutes and the entire criminal justice system as “racist” is creating it,” says the editorial. “Casting law enforcement as the bad guy is upside-down thinking and we are reaping the dark rewards,” the editorial continues, implying a connection between Warren’s rhetoric and Ziobrowski’s alleged threat against ICE agents.

Battenfeld seems to echo that sentiment, writing that “the debate over ICE has gotten out of control — and dangerous.”

“Every politician like US Sen. Elizabeth Warren needs to think carefully about what they are saying when they demonize the controversial agency, and what their words might be provoking,” he writes.

But Battenfeld seems to shoot down his own speculation. “There’s no evidence to suggest that Ziobrowski was motivated by the words of Warren and other Democrats,” he writes, “but it’s safe to say that he was supportive of the abolish-ICE movement.”

According to the Globe story, Lelling said he did not think there was a connection between calls from politicians and activists to abolish ICE and threats against agents.

Warren and others have certainly deployed heated language to criticize ICE. But decrying the administration’s practice of separating adults crossing the border illegally from their children has hardly been limited to left-leaning firebrands, with the chorus of voices condemning the policy including former first lady Laura Bush and even the wife of the man responsible for it, Melania Trump.

Of course, the question of whether overcharged rhetoric is prompting people to cross the line into criminal threats or attack is very much in the air. But it has mostly been centered on whether Trump’s rants against immigrants have played a role in inspiring an increase in hate incidents across the country or demonstrations like the white supremacist rally one year ago in Charlottesville, where, in discussing the rally and the counter-demonstration against it, Trump declared there to be “some very fine people on both sides.”

MICHAEL JONAS


BEACON HILL

Sen. Harriette Chandler stepped down as Senate president but saw only a small impact on her salary thanks to a $35,000 stipend for a new “emerita” post. (State House News)

Lightning struck the Ashland home of Senate President Karen Spilka during a severe storm late Wednesday, frying some electrical outlets and components around the house. (State House News)

A Lowell Sun editorial slams Rep. Byron Rushing of Boston for holding up a bill banning the use of cellphones while driving. Rushing is worried police will use the law for racial profiling.

Gov. Charlie Baker signed 53 bills into law, including a measure providing for automatic voter registration. (State House News)

A Globe editorial urges action to on Beacon Hill to develop laws against driving while stoned — and common sense among pot users to realize they shouldn’t toke and drive.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The failure by the Legislature to act on a bill that would have allowed early retirement for some Barnstable County employees will likely lead to program cuts and layoffs, county officials said. (Cape Cod Times)

Hanover residents are questioning claims by a developer that a mixed-use project with nearly 300 apartments on the site of the Hanover Mall would not drain the town’s water resources or impact the school system. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

Melania Trump’s parents became US citizens using chain migration, a path to citizenship that President Trump has decried. (New York Times)

A federal judge has threatened Attorney General Jeff Sessions with contempt unless he brings a mother and daughter back from El Salvador, where they had been deported while awaiting a hearing on their request for asylum. (Washington Post)

A number of NFL players protested by kneeling, raising fists, or staying in the locker room during the National Anthem at the start of preseason Thursday, prompting President Trump to tweet that they should “find another way to protest” or be suspended without pay. (ESPN)

Administration officials worked feverishly behind the scenes to get NATO to ratify a formal policy agreement before Trump had a chance to blow it up, according to sources. (New York Times)

ELECTIONS

The two Democrats running for governor are hoping to make traffic gridlock an election issue — past experience suggests it’s a tough sell as a campaign issue. (Boston Globe)

A bevy of legal big shots, including Harvard law professor Larry Lessig and former governor Bill Weld, are trying to upend the Electoral College through federal court action, arguing that the winner-take-all system of allocating states’ electoral votes disenfranchises voters supporting losing candidates. (Boston Globe)

Diane Hessan says her ongoing conversations with a cross-section 500 voters across the country suggest Joe Biden would enjoy strong backing in a match-up against President Trump because of the regular-guy humanity he projects. (Boston Globe)

A Herald editorial says President Trump should hit the campaign trail hard to head off a “blue wave” in November — but it says that will require a version of Trump that no one has ever seen, one that is on his “best behavior” and abandons his “petty and petulant tweets.”

Two candidates — Darrin Howell and Liz Mirandaemerge as the favorites in the Democratic primary race for the state rep seat being vacated by Evandro Carvalho, who is running for Suffolk County DA. (Dorchester Reporter)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The tight labor market has led to an significant uptick in hiring in one group that has seen a big drop-off in employment in recent decades — teenagers. (Boston Globe)

Bob Butler, business agent for Sheet Metal Workers Local 17, explains why 1,500 of his members are on strike. (CommonWealth)

An unnamed national company that had signed a letter of intent in April to build a 1 million-square-foot warehouse and create 500 jobs in Fall River’s biopark has pulled out of the deal. (Herald News)

EDUCATION

A new study finds the vast majority of states do not test elementary school and special education teachers’ reading ability and comprehension, with less than a dozen including Massachusetts requiring the educators to pass the exams. (U.S. News & World Report)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The Health Policy Commission is seeing huge growth in urgent care centers and retail clinics, which may help reduce costs. (CommonWealth)

The number of opioid-addicted women delivering babies nationally quadrupled from 1999 to 2014, and in Massachusetts the figure rose sixfold from 1999 to 2013. (Boston Globe)

A new report says two-thirds of the state’s hospitals are not financially healthy. (Salem News)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA is trying to patch up the Alewife parking garage, but it looks like a longer-term solution is needed. (CommonWealth) Channel 5 previously obtained ominous engineering reports on the deteriorating garage, and used them to highlight the facility’s need for repairs.

The garage-crumbling episode had to share the T-is-failing limelight with a power failure on the Blue Line at rush hour that forced riders on one stranded train to walk the tracks through a dark tunnel to emerge from the system. (Boston Herald)

CASINOS/MARIJUANA

The Cannabis Control Commission is divided on what to do about communities that extract payments from marijuana license applicants greater than allowed by law, with one member saying the board should reject them but most saying it’s not the agency’s role to be policing municipalities. (CommonWealth)

Pot notes: Getting a marijuana testing lab up and running is taking time, and slowing down the industry’s rollout….A new public awareness campaign is aimed at deterring youth pot use….Worcester seems to be the state’s pot central. (CommonWealth)