Facebook group targeted after Stanley verdict

By Nigel Maxwell
February 13, 2018 - 1:36pm

The creator of a Facebook group called Farmers with Firearms, said he feels his group has been unfairly criticized in the days following Gerald Stanley's acquittal.

The group's administrator claims he's received death threats through the page's inbox. The page has roughly 7,300 followers.

Social media has become a firestorm for racial commentary since Stanley was acquitted last Friday, in the 2016 shooting death of Colten Boushie, a 22-year-old Indigenous man from the Red Pheasant First Nation.

Protests and rallies have been held across the country demanding changes to the justice system and jury process to include more Indigenous people. Despite many of those rallies promoting peace and unity, the group's administrator says he's had to block up to 300 people due to the level of threats on his page.  

"There's probably been 10 or 20 actual full-on threats but I mean it's just into the message box," he said.
 
The administrator said he created the group in September, 2016 in response to an incident on a farm near Fiske, Sk. A farm hand was approached by by three men carrying handguns and wearing balaclavas. The administrator said the incident caused a lot of anxiety for farmers in the area and frustration with the RCMP response times in rural communities.
 
"We will protect our belongings and family if needed. If the RCMP response time is delayed we will take matters in our own hands as we refuse to be a victim," the group's about me section states. Included on the page are links to a GoFundMe page for Gerald Stanley, advice for members to 'report' the GoFundMe page for Colten Boushie's family in an attempt to shut it down, and promotion for a rural crime watch group based in Kindersley. 

The administrator said he was surprised the argument for self-defence was not made in the Stanley case.

"Stanley could have lied and said he had seen the barrel of the gun and the vehicle, and he didn't. He went about it in the way it was an accident, so it is a little different than what our group was set on," the administrator said.
 
On Sunday, a posting on the Facebook group indicated the group closed due to the number of hateful messages.
 
"Before we never really had an issue with this at all, it's just you know a lot of people have a lot of tensions right now because of [the court case] and people are wanting to act out," he said.
 
Police have said they will be watching social media very closely and will not hesitate to charge people who make direct threats.
 
Prince Albert Police Chief Troy Cooper has encouraged the public to take a screenshot or keep any email they deem to be of concern and report it to PAPS.

 

[email protected]
 
On Twitter: @nigelmaxwell

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