Ever heard of “swatting?” It’s a harassment technique mainly used by online gamers to bully opponents. Perpetrators place an anonymous call alleging a serious crime is taking place. The innocent victim finds himself surrounded by police officers with guns drawn. It wastes officers’ time and resources and can put the victim, and the officers, in danger.
When an irresponsible teen whose prefrontal cortex is still developing engages in this kind of delinquent behavior, some consideration should be made for his lack of maturity. When middle aged women do it to harass political opponents, no such consideration should be made. Throw the book at them. They aren’t just harming their victims, but democracy itself.
Case and point: Samantha Michelle Peck, one of the leaders helping to circulate a petition to recall Woodland Park School Board members, was booked earlier this week on a felony charge for allegedly swatting the wife of the man she is trying to recall — Board Vice President David Illingworth. Illingworth. Police surrounded Katherine Illingworth’s car looking for a drunk driver and a child passenger, neither of whom were present. When it became clear that the allegations were utterly specious, police sought the source of the call. Now Peck faces a felony for making a false report to police and attempting to influence a public servant.
Woodland Park School Board directors are accustomed to underhanded tactics from union-backed opponents who disrupt board meetings, launch flimsy lawsuits, and protest with flair. Swatting a board member’s family member, however, is a new low.
The trouble is that this isn’t a one-off occurrence.
Earlier this year, Robin Niceta, partner of former Aurora Police Chief Vanessa Wilson, made an anonymous call to the Arapahoe County Department of Human Services falsely accusing Councilwoman Danielle Jurinsky of abusing her toddler.
Jurinsky had been critical of the Aurora police chief, who was later fired from the position. After an investigation fully exonerated Jurinsky, Niceta was charged with the crimes of making a false report and of retaliation against an elected official.
Lesson: if you’re going to make false allegations to authorities, get a burner phone like a regular criminal. Better yet, try to be a better person.
Politics ain’t beanbag, the old adage goes, but there are ethical and legal lines that must not be crossed because they erode the integrity of elections and damage the lives of those brave enough to run for office.
Sadly incidents of illegal and unethical behavior are increasing, particularly on the political left. This summer, Democrat Super PAC American Muckrakers made several ugly and utterly false claims about Congresswoman Lauren Boebert in an attempt to tank her primary election prospects.
Democrats funded election deniers in Republican primaries in Colorado and around the country. While their fringe candidates lost in Colorado, conspiracy theorists in some other states are headed to the general election. Democrats figure they can beat these candidates in November. If not, Democrats will be partly responsible for electing people who are either delusional or power mad Big Lie promoters. Thanks. That’s just what we need.
Six Colorado Democrats, all of them retired from office, signed a letter decrying the funding of election deniers. Where were these guys two months ago? Meanwhile Sen. Michael Bennet, the candidate the Democrat Super PAC was trying to assist, has said nothing.
Speaking of silence in the face of injustice, Colorado State Democrats still have not denounced the vandalizing of Colorado churches and pregnancy center by abortion advocates. I’m no longer holding my breath. They don’t seem much bothered by the doxing and harassment of Supreme Court justices, either.
Maybe these folks don’t lose sleep at night because they figure the ends justify the means or that other side does it so it’s no big deal. That’s the trouble. The more something is done, the more it will be done. That’s how malfeasance becomes normalized. Repeated tears in the social fabric can unravel the whole cloth.
Krista L. Kafer is a weekly Denver Post columnist. Follow her Twitter: @kristakafer.
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