Swatting in Occupy and Anonymous

Swatting in Occupy and Anonymous
by Susan Basko, esq.

I know of several instances of swatting of people in Occupy or Anonymous.  All of the instances I know of are thought to originate with the same group of racist online trolls/ harassers who are anti-Anonymous.

Swatting is when someone falsely notifies police that there is an emergency in progress, resulting in police making an emergency response to someone’s house.  The word swat comes from SWAT (special weapons and tactics), the SWAT squad. 

Swatting is always illegal. It is illegal to file a false police report.  

Swatting is also extremely dangerous.  In a recent swatting, little children were held at gunpoint.  They were endangered and have been traumatized.  Swatting causes trauma and PTSD in adults, too.  Swatting is dangerous for all involved, even the police.  Swatting is also a huge financial drain on the local emergency services.

 NOTE: I have heard several recordings of actual, full SWAT calls.  They are all similar.  The caller says he is in the house holding people hostage.  He demands something and says he will kill someone if the demand is not met.  In fact, the caller is far away, spoofing the phone number.  The people in the house are endangered by the police response.   In other instances, "wellness" calls are made, asking police to check on the well-being of a person who is not in any distress.  While a wellness check might bring two officers, a hostage situation is likely to bring a full emergency response and is extremely dangerous and expensive.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE SWATTED:  If you are swatted, you will be surprised, shocked.  Police arrive at your house in a state of heightened alert.  They are ready to shoot.  There may be dogs, many vehicles, lots of guns.  Police may be silent and surround the house, or they may bang on a door.  It depends what story was told by the swatter.  You will be in a state of shock and the police will be hopped up ready to go to battle.  You have to think clearly and respond appropriately.

If you are swatted, DO NOT LET THE POLICE IN TO YOUR RESIDENCE.  DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO SEARCH.  You know nothing is going on.  Do not let them in.  Politely and firmly tell them several times that everything is okay and you do not want them to search.  Just keep repeating this and close the door, if needed.  Thank them, be polite, but do not let them in and do not let them search. 

Ask the police to follow up with you about who swatted you.  Pursue this.  You want to catch the swatters.

If you have made that error and told the police they could search, you can revoke that permission at any time.  Clearly tell them to stop the search, that you no longer give permission. 

Sometimes a call will come from “inside the house.”  That can be someone hacking in to the phone line, especially if the phone and computer wifi are on the same optical cable.  I was swatted a while back, and this is what happened.  Police wanted to check the house to be sure I was safe.  I politely and repeatedly refused.  It did freak me out with them telling me the call came from within the house.  It is the stuff of horror movies.  But logic would tell you that if there’s a killer hiding in your house, they aren’t going to call the police.

IF YOU WALK OUTSIDE INTO A SWATTING SITUATION or if you are outside already when it happens:  If you are outside, the police will likely take you as a suspect.  You need to listen to what they say and do it exactly and move slowly, because you risk being shot or killed.  For real.   That is why, if you see police arrive at your house, you should stay inside.  Even if they detain you, you should still refuse any search of the house or yard or outbuildings.  The police may demand an explanation or demand identification.  If you left that in the house, things are going to get complicated.  Try to stay calm and logical.  Your life is at risk.  Be smart.  

AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN SWATTED: Take care of yourself.  Expect PTSD to set in.  Do what makes you feel safe and comfortable.  Follow through with the police to see if you can catch the swatter.  If you don’t, they’ll go on doing it to others.  If you think you know who swatted you, say so.  


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