Berkeley College Republicans subject to theft, harassing emails

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Members of Berkeley College Republicans were subject to a theft Thursday afternoon, and some new members have since received harassing emails from an anonymous sender.

According to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich, UCPD received a report Saturday that someone had allegedly stolen a contact list from BCR between 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Thursday. Reich said some BCR members later received an email in which the sender said they had obtained the members’ email addresses from a sign-up list for the Milo Yiannopoulos event. In the email, the sender asked a series of harassing questions.

According to Reich, someone witnessed a individual that was involved in the theft of the list. The suspect was described as a white male in his 20s with a medium build and shoulder-length brown hair, wearing a red and black plaid shirt and gray pants.

“(BCR) didn’t initially realize the list had been taken,” Reich said. “When the individual had (taken it) … they were able to get the list from him. But I think that he had taken a photograph of it before he had left the area.”

BCR Treasurer David Craig said that although he was not present at the time of the theft, he was informed that someone had stolen a sign-up sheet from the BCR table on Sproul Plaza on Thursday.

According to Craig, the sheet was not from the Yiannopoulos event but was actually a list of people who had signed up to be on the BCR emailing list during BCR’s tabling and were considering joining the organization.

“It had nothing to do with Milo any more than our weekly tabling had to do with Milo,” Craig said. “They are attempting to extend their harassment of Milo to our potential members, and that’s an underhanded thing to do.”

In the email the new BCR members received, the anonymous sender accused BCR of not taking necessary precautions to protect the identities of their members. The sender added that the people who received the email were on a sign-up list from the Yiannopoulos event, although Craig denied this.

The sender posed questions in the email, including asking the receivers if they were aware of Yiannopoulos’ alleged harassment of a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee student and if they supported “this kind of ‘speech.’ ” The sender also said they were publishing a story on the Yiannopoulos event Monday evening and would publish the names of all the individuals on the email list along with the story.

Although Reich said the identity of the suspect and sender is unknown, the email was signed by “OLAASM” — an organization that identifies itself as anti-fascist.

Craig was also unaware of the identity of the suspect, but said he was “told that it was somebody who was affiliated with or at least pro-Antifa.”

UCPD is currently classifying the incident as a “suspicious circumstance,” Reich said. UCPD is keeping the incident in its record and will investigate it further if the situation escalates.

“There’s no specific threat other than releasing information that’s already public,” Reich said. “At this point, we’ve documented it, and if they continue to receive additional emails and if they’re feeling harassed or threatened, then we will (intervene).”

In the meantime, Reich said UCPD has offered to assign an officer to BCR’s table on Sproul “to give them a little bit more peace of mind.” Craig confirmed this, adding that UCPD also offered to issue an officer to BCR’s weekly meetings.

Craig reassured the campus community that BCR has addressed this incident and that potential members will not be at risk of something similar happening again, as the organization has changed the way it handles the sign-in sheet.

He also expressed his frustration and disappointment at the sender’s actions.

“It’s a fairly underhanded thing to do — to attack a club’s membership by sending harassing emails to potential members,” Craig said. “If they have an ideological problem with us, they should engage with us in debate instead of going after our members individually.”

Chantelle Lee is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ChantelleHLee.