Thursday, July 24, 2014
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Redskins ‘blowback’ prompts police complaint


OTTAWA — Somewhere in Ottawa a young man who goes by the name of “Corey” may soon have a police officer knocking on his door.

Ever since the Nepean Redskins football club announced last week that it had changed its name to the Nepean Eagles, Ian Campeau, who had been agitating for the change, has been getting hostile reactions on his Twitter and Facebook accounts from those who liked the old name. The backlash was not unexpected, of course, but some postings this weekend went too far.

On Sunday, the Ojibway native and member of the electronic group A Tribe Called Red, filed a complaint with the police. “Instead of studio time, I get to spend the day in the police station because some people like to racially discriminate against me on my private Facebook,” he said in a Facebook posting.

The comment that prompted the complaint was posted by “Corey,” who referred to Campeau as a “wagon burner,” and observed that “idiots like you are the reason your ancestors lost your land.!!”

Campeau, who filed a complaint about the club’s old name with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, acknowledges he’s received “all kinds of public blowback” since the team announced its intention in September to make the name change. Some of it, he says, has been pretty nasty, name-calling, insults, racial slurs and the like. There were even intimations of violence against him and his family.

In September, one man threatened to appear at Campeau’s front door dressed in a native headdress. What was Campeau going to do about that?

What he did was report it to the police.

This weekend’s message from “Corey” went too far for Campeau because it came as a private message. Hence, another police complaint.

“I was expecting a backlash, and I don’t object to criticism or debate, but when it comes to abusive harassment or belittling racism on my personal media sites, I won’t put up with it,” he said. “It gets scary when people are calling me very derogatory names on my personal Facebook page.”

In this case, Campeau expects to the police to have a word with “Corey.” It won’t be hard to find him.

Private Facebook messages, along with any photos that accompany them, can readily be traced back to a specific account and the person to whom that account belongs.

“On Facebook messaging there’s a function that will tell you exactly where that message came from,” Campeau notes. “I don’t think people know how much information about themselves they are giving away when they post things like this.”

For Campeau, if there’s a lesson here — besides not saying such things on social media sites — it is that this behaviour reinforces why changing the football club’s name was necessary in the first place.

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