On Monday, February 26, renowned political pundit Ben Shapiro spoke at the University of Minnesota in the North Star Ballroom on the St. Paul campus. The conservative pundit is known for articulating the thought process behind the conservative movement in the US. Some say that his rhetorical defense of conservatism is hate speech
Shapiro has been known to attract protesters at college campuses, including Antifa, decentralized groups of left-wing activists known to endorse violence against individuals and destruction of private property. Antifa groups have led riots in major cities and prominent college campuses. The state of New Jersey has gone so far as to call Antifa groups a domestic terrorist network. Earlier this year, Antifa made their presence at the University of Minnesota known by effectively shutting down the West Bank campus during the speech of right-wing political commentator Lauren Southern.
Although no Antifa group was present, Students for a Democratic Society UMN (SDS), a radical left-wing group that claims to represent the working class and marginalized groups, organized a protest called “Ban Ben Shapiro”. SDS has made several false claims, alleging that Shapiro supports conversion therapy and is a member of the alt-right. SDS’s protest wasn’t illegal, but the group broke student conduct codes, and may have broken a Minnesota state law.
Doxxing is the sharing of personal information and personal identifiers with a malicious intent. It is often paired with libel and slander, but the main purpose is usually to intimidate the target. This tactic is commonly used by radical groups to intimidate those with opposing views. The official SDS UMN Facebook account posted a comment in their event “Ban Ben Shapiro” with a picture of someone who was recording the protest with the title as “Do you know this troll?”. A second comment on the thread has an individual posting “There was also this guy”, with a picture of another event attendee. These posts openly solicit personal information to identify, stalk or harass.
The official actions by SDS breaks section II article (b) of the University of Minnesota’s Student Conduct Policy, as well as subdivision 6. The second statement in university’s guiding principles clearly state:
“The University seeks a community that is free from violence, threats, and intimidation…. That does not threaten the physical or mental health or safety of members of the University community”.
SDS explicitly used their official public Facebook account to seek information indended to harm a member of the university community. Subsequently this also violates subd. 6, of Section IV, Disciplinary Offenses. Subd. 6, Harm to Person states:
“Harm to person means engaging in conduct that endangers or threatens to endanger the physical and/or mental health, safety, or welfare of another person, including, but not limited to, threatening, harassing, intimidating, or assaulting behavior”.
Doxing has taken its affect on conservatives in the community before. Madison Faupel, the Chair of the Minnesota College Republicans and former chair of UMN College Republicans was doxxed by Antifa last February. She and her family received many threatening messages and calls, causing major distress. SDS has shown that they wish to mirror the actions taken by Antifa to intimidate those they disagree with.
Legally, SDS may also be in hot water. Although doxxing is not explicitly a crime, under Minnesota statute 609.749 subd. 1 it could be argued as stalking. According to Minnesota law stalking is defined as:
“to engage in conduct which the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated, and causes this reaction on the part of the victim regardless of the relationship between the actor and victim”.
Minn. stat. §609.749 subd. 1(a) continues that “no proof of specific intent is required”. The person or group commits a stalking crime, worthy of a gross misdemeanor when:
“(1) directly or indirectly, or through third parties, manifests a purpose or intent to injure the person, property, or rights of another by the commission of an unlawful act;
(2) follows, monitors, or pursues another, whether in person or through any available technological or other means.”-Minn. stat. §609.74 subd. 2. (1-2).
If SDS is guilty of this crime, they are also guilty of subd. 20, of the student conduct code. It is against the student conduct code to commit a state, or federal crime. Within the last two years there have been three recorded doxxing incidents by the radical left on campus and in the Minneapolis community.