Feminist cancels speech at USU after terror threat

Wednesday , October 15, 2014 - 8:49 PM

By CIMARON NEUGEBAUER and BEN LOCKHART
Standard-Examiner staff

LOGAN — Canadian-American author, blogger and feminist Anita Sarkeesian has canceled her scheduled Wednesday speech at Utah State University after learning the school would allow concealed firearms at the event despite an anonymous terror threat promising “the deadliest school shooting in American history.” 

Utah State confirmed Sarkeesian’s decision to cancel in a tweet sent out shortly after 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

University officials originally decided to move forward with Sarkeesian’s speech after several staff members received an anonymous email terror threat on Tuesday morning from someone claiming to be a student proposing “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if it didn't cancel the Wednesday lecture.

The school later reversed their announcement after a discussion with Sarkeesian over whether firearms would be allowed at the event.

“Sarkeesian was informed that, in accordance with the State of Utah law regarding the carrying of firearms, if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue,” reads a statement on the university’s website.

Sarkeesian, well-known for her advocacy for improved portrayals of women in the video gaming industry, took to Twitter on Tuesday night to express her frustration with police.

“Forced to cancel my talk at USU after receiving death threats because police wouldn't take steps to prevent concealed firearms at the event,” Sarkeesian tweeted.

Officers wouldn’t agree to new security measures, Sarkeesian said in another tweet.

“Requested pat downs or metal detectors after mass shooting threat but because of Utah's open carry laws police wouldn’t do firearm searches,” she said. 

Sarkeesian reassured her Twitter followers the recent cancellation didn’t mean she was intimidated. 

“I’m safe. I will continue my work. I will continue speaking out,” Sarkeesian tweeted. “The whole game industry must stand up against the harassment of women.”

The email author wrote that “feminists have ruined my life and I will have my revenge, for my sake and the sake of all the others they've wronged.“

USU officials earlier consulted with federal, local and state law enforcement and determined it was safe to allow Anita Sarkeesian to give her presentation, said spokesman Tim Vitale.

In order to determine the degree of risk the letter posed, police ran the information they had through the FBI cyber terrorism task force and a number of other statewide database analysis information centers.

”They determined the threat seems to be consistent with ones (Sarkeesian) has received at other places around the nation,” he told the Standard-Examiner. “The threat we received is not out of the norm for (this woman).”

The email was sent to Ann Austin, director of the Center for Women and Gender Studies, along with several others, according to a spokesman for the center.

Sarkeesian is the author of the video blog “Feminist Frequency” and the video series Tropes vs.Women in Video Games, which analyzes how women are depicted in pop culture. She was scheduled to speak at 11:30 a.m. in the Taggart Student Center Auditorium.

 

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