By noise of rain
Though I had never met Mary before, I messaged her when I saw that some rightwing Walker support groups had published her home address and phone number on Facebook. She was a Facebook “friend” through activist channels, so I figured I would let her know her info was made public. She already knew. They’ve posted her private info five times since summer, and have relentlessly harassed her. What follows is a chilling story of bullying, implicit physical threat, and coordinated intimidation.
When I went to the prearranged coffeshop I expected to meet a fiery activist. You know the type: aggressive, full of fight, tough and determined, battle-scarred weary, but ready for the next round. Instead, waiting for me at a table was a sweet looking early middle-aged woman, nicely dressed, nice smile… someone I might expect to meet walking her Jack Russell Terrier at the dog park, or at my son’s middle school parents’ night. Her gentle demeanor could not hide the palpable worry in her eyes. She is a single woman living alone, and constant fear has plagued her since August.
Last summer, a couple of activist friends from Madison contacted Mary to see if she would help them administer their anti-Walker Facebook pages. They were being harassed by an amorphous group of rightwing Walker supporters, and needed someone to delete troll posts and unfriend trolls. It was really nothing, and not expecting any consequences for such mundane housekeeping chores, she agreed to help out. “If only I knew then what I know now,” she exclaimed.
She began to delete the most childish posts on her friends’ site, and she blocked the annoying parties. But this, for some reason, drew the ire of this ring of schoolyard bullies.
The trolls are pretty well organized. The various actors take on multiple identities, which is easy to do on Facebook if you enlist multiple email accounts. They are collectively responsible for such sites (which periodically go off line) as: …
There is a bit of an embarrassed silence between us. I suggest she get a lawyer and take it through civil process. She has no money. She’s afraid that they are compromising her new job. She’s afraid of getting fired. She’s afraid she’ll meet some jerk on her walk home. She’s afraid that her house will be broken into. She’s afraid that her reputation will be irreparably damaged. She’s afraid that her side business will be ruined by false testimonials. And she is plainly and simply hurt that people would do this to anyone.