On June 5, local Florida media reported that the family home of school mass shooting survivor and gun violence prevention activist David Hogg was “swatted” Tuesday morning.
“Swatting” is a harassment practice deployed by online trolls in which someone places an anonymous call to police and falsely accuses the targeted person of a crime to get units, usually a SWAT team, deployed to the victim’s home. In Hogg’s case, someone falsely claimed there was a hostage situation in his home. He was not home at the time.
Swatting places victims in serious danger of being injured or killed by an unexpected and uncalled-for police response. In one case, a feud over the game Call of Duty raged until one participant, Tyler Barris of Los Angeles, reported a fake hostage situation at the home of the other participant, Andrew Finch, in Kansas. Police responded they shot and killed Finch; Barris was eventually charged with involuntary manslaughter, and prosecutors recently picked up two alleged accomplices.
The dangerous swatting episode follows months of right-wing media harassment faced by Hogg and other Parkland shooting survivors, who became prime targets of ludicrous conspiracy theories and ad-hominem attacks after speaking out against America’s endemic gun violence problem. Fox personalities used airtime to attack Hogg and other survivors for targeting gun manufacturers with activism, and Fox host Laura Ingraham taunted and mocked Hogg online, leading to an advertiser boycott that Fox News has yet to recover from. Hogg even drew the ire of Mike Adams, a far-right conspiracy theorist, who launched the absurdly-named HoggWatch.com, which is dedicated to following Parkland survivors’ every move and pushing fake stories about them.