A pair of anonymous alt-right Twitter accounts published the personal information of two-dozen people on Thursday morning, justifying the action by saying their support of a protest likened them to Islamic State terrorists.
A Twitter account by the name of “Nova Scotia National Socialists” accused the supporters of “historical revisionism” by protesting the statue of Edward Cornwallis, the English commander and founder of Halifax, infamous for ordering the mass killings or kidnappings of Nova Scotia’s Indigenous population in the 18th century, which came with “a reward of ten Guineas.”
The social media accounts, which claim to represent a group calling itself the “Cape Breton Alt Right,” equated the calls for the statue’s removal with destruction of the ancient city of Palmyra, in Syria.
The Twitter account published the information of the dozens of people affiliated online with protests against the Cornwallis statue, which have been ongoing in recent weeks, including their names, photos, social media accounts, interests, hometowns, universities, workplaces, and in same cases their “associates/sexual partners.”
At least two of the people on the list weren’t even at any of the protests, although they engaged with the group opposing the statue on Facebook.
“If I just show up to participate or show support … will I end up on a list?”
The publication of their private information, usually referred to as doxxing, also came with labels for various individuals on the list as “antifa,” or anti-fascist; “LGBT,” or “militant and dangerous.”
The anonymous group or individual did not respond to VICE News’ request for an interview.
One of the names on the list — labelled as “antifa, feminist, academic” — was El Jones, Halifax’s former poet laureate and noted activist. “I do think that we are seeing a rise in this kind of rhetoric and we’re definitely seeing something being enabled and normalized in our community,” she told VICE News.
“I think it’s more about an attempt to silence people. So as a woman and speaking as a woman of colour, you do have to take into consideration, will someone threaten my life if I show up at this protest? If I just show up to participate or show support … will I end up on a list?”
The protests have been at the centre of controversy for weeks. During a Canada Day ceremony at the statue, which sits in a park near the city’s waterfront, a group from the so-called Proud Boys, an alt-right men’s group who style themselves street fighters, disrupted the demonstration over Canada Day weekend — those five are now under review from the Canadian Armed Forces, where they are all enlisted. (The Proud Boys was founded by Gavin McInnes, who was a co-founder of VICE. He and the company severed all ties in 2008.)
A statement posted to Twitter by the “Nova Scotia National Socialists”, in response to the CBC, said their action was a response to the Canadian military’s decision to suspend the five servicemen, arguing the soldiers had been doxxed by “various Communist and Anarchist elements”
The soldiers were identified by a local activist group on Facebook alongside video of them crashing the protest.
Since the Canada Day weekend, protests have kept up, with the city eventually agreeing to temporarily cover the statue in a black tarp. A longer term agreement about what to do with the statue has not yet been struck.
Jones said people who simply liked a status or made a comment on a post to do with the Facebook event for the protest were shocked to see that they were being listed as “potentially dangerous.”
The statement says all information published can be found publicly.
Halifax, and Cape Breton police did not get back to VICE News regarding whether or not an investigation was opened into the incident.