Anna Kelles, a Tompkins County legislator who is running for the New York State Assembly's 125th District seat, announced Monday that her campaign and its supporters are being cyber-threatened via email. She said the situation has been reported to the Tompkins County Sheriff's Department and a report has been filed.
There appear to be two incidents in question, according to a press release this morning, both carried out via masked email address. The first came last week when the Kelles campaign received a message that their campaign sign hanging on the Plumbers-Steamfitters Local 267 building on West State Street would be defiled with "Nazi symbols." The second came Sunday evening, when someone emailed a person with a lawn sign supporting Kelles that they would be doxxed if they did not take it down ("doxxing" is basically posting personal information on the internet, which can range from home addresses to Social Security numbers, etc., an information age intimidation tactic). According to the press release, the email went on to include "derogatory and slanderous" statements about Kelles.
Kelles' statement pins the blame on 8kun, better known under its previous name of 8chan. 8chan, for those who have some healthy semblance of an existence outside of the internet, is one of the more bizarre, often repulsive message board sites. For perspective, as bad as people say Reddit is, 8chan (now 8kun) is where the dregs of Reddit fled to once regulations got too stingy on Reddit. News about 8chan communities is often about something racist, bigoted or violent that arose from its pages -- and Kelles campaign manager Mo Brown said whoever was emailing the campaign supporter about their lawn-sign was threatening to post their home address on 8kun.
Whether or not 8kun actually exists currently is unclear, though similar iterations certainly exist regardless. The URL doesn't lead to a site and the last news article about the site's path around the internet said it had lost its domain.
Kelles is one of seven Democrats vying for the nomination. The election is being held June 23. Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne confirmed he has been informed of the incident.
"We will not be bullied or intimidated, and I'm grateful to my supporters for their courage and character," Kelles said in her announcement. "There is no place for hate here."
The Ithaca Times has reviewed the email that was sent to the Kelles supporter to ensure its existence. The Tompkins County Democratic Committee also condemned the attack.
"The Tompkins County Democratic Committee strongly condemns any threatening gestures, communication or actions by any such intolerant groups or individuals," the statement said. "Our Democratic Committee stands together to support all of our candidates who are running in uniform support of Democratic principles and social justice. Any individual or group who are a subject to this kind of harassment should contact the Tompkins County Sheriff's Department for assistance."
The Ithaca Times also received an email from a masked address late last week alleging coverage bias in favor of Kelles. There were no threats in the email sent to the Times.