Thursday, November 23, 2017
News Roundup

Dixie Doxxing: Southern Heritage group posts names, addresses of opponents

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Curtiss Wilson is an 89-year-old Tampa resident who fought in the civil rights movement.

But in a "survey" posted to the web recently by Save Southern Heritage Florida, Wilson is listed as a "resentful black woman." Her phone number and street address are included.

Charles "Fred" Hearns is a historian who grew up in Tampa and moved to St. Petersburg three years ago . In the survey, Hearns is listed as a "resentful black man" who was "imported" from Pinellas County to tell the Hillsborough County Commission to remove the Confederate monument in front of the old Hillsborough County courthouse.

The report and accompanying spreadsheet, posted by Save Southern Heritage on Aug. 10, includes the personal information, photos and "affiliation" of more than 100 people who spoke in favor of moving the monument at the July 19 County Commission meeting. The listed affiliations include specific groups or movements, such as "Democrat" and "Black Lives Matter," and more general descriptions such as "anti-Trump," "LGBT," "Muslim" and "resentful black man." One man was described as being "anti-law enforcement."

Activists on the list are calling the report a clear case of "doxxing" — publishing personal information as an act of intimidation — and say some people on the list have been targets of harassment on social media and, in at least one case, by phone. They want the Save Southern Heritage list removed.

"We're worried about the safety of our people," said Tim Heberlein, Tampa Bay director for Organize Florida, whose group has several members on the list. "Legally, it feels like a line has been crossed."

Along with Sons of the Confederate Veterans, Save Southern Heritage Florida has been at the forefront of the opposition to moving the 106-year-old monument, called Memoria en Aeterna. The county commission voted in June to keep the statue in place, then reversed course at its July 19 meeting, voting 4-2 to move it to a private Brandon cemetery. It voted last week to require donors to raise $140,000 to cover half the cost of removal, a goal met in 24 hours.

After that meeting, Save Southern Heritage obtained sign-in cards completed by speakers who supported the removal of the monument through a public records request and culled information from social media sites, voter registration rolls, property appraiser records and other internet research sites, according to the group. The report also includes photos of each speaker pulled from the county's television broadcast.

The group posted the report and an accompanying spread sheet on its web site with a news release declaring that "Study Shows 'Anti-Fa' and Radical Left Drove Down Tampa Confederate Memorial." Anti-fa, or antifa, is a leftist movement whose name derives from "anti-fascism."

"(It's) a really hard core group of social justice warriors and left-wing democratic party activists, mixed in with Socialist-Marxists and Anti-Fa... certainly not mainstream America," David McCallister, a spokesman for the group, said in a news release. McCallister also serves as commander of the Sons of Confederate Veterans' Judah P. Benjamin Camp and has been a leading advocate for leaving the Tampa monument in place.

Just one of the people on the Save Southern Heritage list was described as having an affiliation with anti-fa, however. Many people on the list are elderly. Several are from outside of the Tampa Bay area.

The report includes a lengthy disclaimer stating, in part, that "SSH FL assumes no responsibility for consequences resulting from the use of the information herein ... ," and that the group "is not responsible for, and expressly disclaims all liability for, damages of any kind arising out of use, reference to, or reliance on such information."

Doug Guetzloe, an Orlando anti-tax activist and board member for Save Southern Heritage, said the report is a form of "opposition research" to show who is addressing elected officials.

Guetzloe said people who insert themselves in public debates can't complain when information gleaned from public sources is compiled by their political adversaries. He denied that the report was intended as a way to target people for harassment. He said the group's attorneys reviewed the report before its release.

In response to the posting, the Hillsborough County Democratic Party, several of whose active members were on the list, called Monday for the commissioners to rescind McAllister's recent appointment to the county's Diversity Advisory Council. Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren, who was present at the meeting, said his office wasn't investigating the posting by the Confederate group, but said Tampa police and Hillsborough Sheriff's Office are aware of the situation.

Warren told about 150 people attending the Monday night meeting that the action of McAllister's group may be reprehensible, but probably isn't illegal.

"We have to be willing to tolerate speech that makes you cringe at your very core," he said. "It sucks, it's scary, it's creepy," but, "unless they are posing a specific threat, it's not criminal conduct."

   
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