NOTE: This story quotes vulgar language many may find offensive.
By Meghan Simons
Sparks Police Officer George Forbush wants to kill me.
Maybe not me specifically. But Forbush, an Explosive Ordnance Disposal tech for the Sparks Police Department, is an ardent follower of an anonymous Twitter account that has doxxed local residents they believe to be affiliated with Black Lives Matter (BLM) or Antifa, or who are simply supporters of wearing masks in public.
They follow him as well. The tweets have put others in significant danger based on often faulty and misleading information. The account employs stochastic terrorism as a tactic–essentially using mass media to embolden “lone wolves” to carry out attacks which are individually unpredictable but statistically predictable, while giving themselves the advantage of plausible deniability because they never directly say to harm a target.
The anonymous account’s Twitter avatar is a silhouette of a helicopter with people falling from it, paying homage to Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and his penchant for executing political enemies and dissidents by throwing them from helicopters. The account repeatedly claims all leftists are communists, pedophiles, and racists. After sharing addresses, they frequently state they are sharing people’s information for “opinion” purposes. There is no opinion attached to the tweets themselves beyond communists aren’t people and the only good “commie” is a dead communist.
The account is run by a team of self-described, far-right Boogaloo Bois. Boogaloo Bois are notoriously antagonistic toward antifascists, police and governments. They are organizing rapidly and are itching to start a civil war.
In Oakland, California Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Carrillo, who is affiliated with the Boogaloo movement, was charged with the murder of a federal service officer after gunning him down outside a courthouse during a BLM protest. Boogaloo Bois in Las Vegas were arrested on terrorism charges after plotting to use BLM protests as cover to kill police officers and perpetrate bombings. One of the men was also charged with repeated rapes of his stepdaughter.
Instead of doing anything to prevent citizens from having their private information posted online, Forbush used his Twitter account under the handle @Punisher8205 to encourage the team behind the anonymous Twitter account to continue stalking victims.
On Saturday, Forbush tweeted to them, “Damn good job. I hope your entire team stays safe out there getting this information out to the rest of us. Now I know why all you guys practice all that ground fighting in case some communist takes offense to all the truth you guys expose. Keep it coming and stay safe [devil face emoji].”
They thanked him for his support and said, “Gracie Jiu-jitsu always comes in handy.”
This was not Forbush’s first interaction with the account. On July 8, they asked if 2020 would be the year gun control in America dies. Forbush replied, “Only if you’re planning on a mass extinction of the left or their ideas.”
Pinochet would approve.
Forbush’s entire feed is a morass of white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, and racism that appears endemic to police departments across the country and seeps through the upper echelons of Sparks’ city leadership. As the Sparks City Council wondered who would want to write “ACAB [All Cops Are Bastards]” on City Hall, Forbush tweeted about his hatred of BLM activists and antifascists, while openly fantasizing about shooting them, writing, “I am going to build a couple AR pistols just for BLM, Antifa, or active shooters who cross my path and can’t maintain social distancing.”
Forbush said the riots in Reno made him “hate the human race” and “a Antifa” handing out supposed riot-for-cash fliers was ensuring they’d “get the shit kicked out of them” harder.
Forbush rabidly shared instances of police brutality, such as officers forcing a Portland protester’s face directly into tear gas. On July 28, he replied to a photo of a Portland mother who had been shot at close range in the forehead with a projectile, writing, “Cheers to the marksman that turned her into a cyclops.”
Forbush also muses about “accidentally” throwing gasoline on people burning a flag and that he can’t wait for drivers to run over protesters. His disrespect for women is evident, as he tweeted at Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) to “be like a dildo and fuck off” after she praised the mask placed on the Statue of Liberty at Las Vegas’ New York, New York casino.
I reported the anonymous Twitter to the Reno Police Department after they posted a photo of me, my significant other, and my children. Initially, they cropped my children out of the picture. One of their followers later posted the full photo, uncropped, with my babies grinning widely in our arms at Sesame Street Live. At the time, they were not even two years old.
The poster wrote that the anonymous account’s owner told them to share it, and asked, “Is it kidnapping if your [sic] saving them? Thats [sic] just my opinion. Too late for those brats.” They ended the message with a vomiting emoji. Another user posted a second picture of my kids sleeping, asking, “Do they sleep well knowing mommy is a commie?”
Another follower threatened to shoot Reed High School Head Varsity Girls’ Basketball Coach Sara Rooker after the anonymous account said she was indoctrinating youth to become violent Marxists. When posting about Rooker, they listed her place of employment, that she is gay, and encouraged its followers to “pour it on” her. Within a matter of hours, she received direct messages from a man named Jake Wright, stating he was going to “Matthew Shepard” and “lynch” her – referring to the grisly 1998 murder of a gay Laramie, Wyoming man.
Wright claimed to be on the “Republicans for Nevada” committee, writing, “I don’t know a single republican that agrees these queers are nothing more than target practice.” On the thread with a photo of my children, he wrote, “It’s time we rise up and protect ourselves. No commie or queers or blacks will destroy my country. Just as you said, POUR IT ON!”
Not once did Officer Forbush attempt to find Rooker to warn her or the school district that graphic death threats had been posted by someone claiming they would go to Reed High to kill Rooker. Rooker made contact with Forbush on Twitter to ask him why he did nothing. Forbush never responded.
In cheerleading the anonymous account, Forbush has abdicated his duty to serve and protect the citizens of Sparks and spit on the values extolled by SPD: Integrity, service, professionalism, respect, community, leadership, and accountability.
The author behind the anonymous account is thrilled people are frightened, writing, “[P]eople are moving because of us. Awesome.” This admission may well break the law, as NRS 200.575 states anyone who uses the internet to commit the crime of stalking or to “publish, display or distribute information in a manner that substantially increases the risk of harm or violence to the victim… “ can be convicted of a felony.
Rather than upholding the law, Forbush is encouraging these members of a right-wing terrorist organization to commit felonies for fun.
I am an anti-fascist, a member of the LGBTQIA community, and a supporter of Black Lives Matter–groups who Forbush and other followers of the anonymous account have brazenly threatened to kill. I’ve earned at least three, maybe four bullets from Forbush by his own criteria.
The anonymous account has doxxed Black Renoites, LGBTQIA residents, transgender sex workers, and dozens of other vulnerable members of our community. If any of us need to call for help in Sparks, will we be the next hashtag with officers like Forbush on the force? Will we receive the bullets he insinuates people like us deserve? To call the police in Sparks is to risk your own life and the lives of those you love.
Should SPD shrug it off without action, it’s more evidence there are no good apples.”
I look at the photos and addresses posted by these violent men, knowing a police officer congratulated them for it, and it sickens me. Users behind the anonymous account labeled whole swaths of locals as deserving of death and Forbush told them to keep it coming. Should SPD shrug it off without action, it’s more evidence there are no good apples.
Indeed, the reason one bad apple spoils the bunch is that the rot emanating from the decaying apple speeds the unarrestable deterioration of the entire bushel. Tendrils of rot curl through the department, choking off compassion and the notion of protecting and serving anyone beyond the old, white, male guard.
Forbush tweeted under his real name and bragged on multiple occasions about being a cop, including one tweet about serving on U.S. Senator Harry Reid’s security detail. That he was comfortable in doing so while tweeting such horrific content publicly doesn’t speak to idiocy; it speaks to his certainty of no consequences. In order for leaders to get away with atrocities, it is crucial to cast the target as “other.” Forbush seems to have cast multiple groups of citizens in Reno and Sparks as “other”–less than full members of society–to the point that killing us seems to bother him no more than crumpling a piece of paper.
As he crowed about building his AR pistol, did he think of me? As he stated he’d throw gasoline on people burning the flag, did he think of those marching for justice? Did he think of Rooker as he praised a police officer for causing severe head injuries to a mother while simultaneously speculating about her sex life?
Or worse, did we not even enter his mind? Are we othered to the point he was blind to the danger posed by this account sending people after us? By writing this, will I be subject to a felony stop leaving work? By sounding the alert about Officer Forbush Saturday, have I just ensured my own demise?
As John Stuart Mill said, “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.”
Forbush did worse than nothing by praising evil.
If anything happens to me, remember: Officer George Forbush of the Sparks Police Department wanted to kill me.
Please tell my babies I loved them very much.
Meghan Simons lives in Reno and is a professional specializing in the treatment of substance use disorders. Previously, she worked for political candidates as a communications consultant and field operative. She is a single mom of twins and has written on politics for over a decade. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her kids, wandering Reno, and hiking on Mt. Rose from a respective social distance. Any opinions expressed here are her own and are not to be taken as those of any employers, groups, or professional boards with whom she is affiliated.
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