Washington Residents Receive Violent Threats After Submitting Complaints Against Businesses for Violating Lockdown

Washington state residents who complained about businesses violating lockdown measures received violent threats after stay-at-home protesters shared their personal information on Facebook.

The Washington Three Percenters and Reopen Washington State—two groups who have been protesting Democratic Governor Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order—posted the names, email addresses and phone numbers of Washingtonains who have submitted formal complaints to the state against business that have allegedly remained open or violated coronavirus mitigation measures under the stay-at-home order.

After their personal information was shared on two Facebook pages over the past week, some of the individuals named said they received harassment and threats of violence, according to local reports.

The Washington Three Percenters, a far-right group self-described on Facebook as "God Fearing Patriots," shared the following message to their social media account: "Want to snitch on your neighbor? Don't expect to hide behind you (sic) computer screen." The group then also released a spreadsheet with the names and contact details of residents who have lodged a complaint to state officials to date.

Washington state protest
Spencer Powell (R) of Redmond, Washington sells flags during a protest against Governor Jay Inslee's stay-at-home order outside the State Capitol in Olympia, Washington on May 9, 2020. - The Washington State Patrol estimates about 1,500 people rallied against Governor Jay Inslees stay-at-home order JASON REDMOND/AFP via Getty Images/Getty

Mike Faulk, press secretary for Inslee, told Newsweek that the group obtained the information via public record requests to the Emergency Operations Center and released it as required by law.

"The governor strongly condemns harassment of any kind and we find it extremely troubling that people who were trying to keep other Washingtonians healthy by reporting violators are subject to this," Faulk said. "This threatening behavior is unacceptable and repugnant."

Faulk noted that the complaint web form states that the information provided may be released publicly but allows for residents to file a complaint anonymously.

One woman from King County, who submitted a complaint and was later on the list shared by the Washington Three Percenters, said that she immediately began receiving threats via email and phone messages. She asked to remain anonymous out of fear she would receive further threats.

In one phone message, reviewed by the Times, a man can be heard saying: "You got 48 hours to get the [expletive] out of Washington, or I am coming for you, and your loved ones." Another female harasser told her in a voice message: "I hope you choke on the [expletive] virus."

The woman told the publication that she would have never made the complaint against the business if she knew her "personal information would be given to people who would use it to attack me."

"I was just trying to be a good citizen," she added.

The Washington Three Percenters' leader, Matt Marshall, defended the sharing of personal information during a rally on Saturday. The information was public record, he said, adding that business owners who are going under have a right to face their accuser.

As of May 10, more than 17,000 individuals had tested positive for coronavirus in Washington state, with 923 deaths caused by the new disease. Overall, the U.S. has a total of 1,365,200 COVID-19 cases, with 80,700 deaths and 240,800 recoveries.