Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano said she was trying to keep discussion of Black Lives Matter issues “in public light” by broadcasting on Twitter critical messages sent to her office last week.

Her decision to tweet several messages critiquing her involvement in a Dec. 23 rally at the Mall of America, including the senders’ contact information, has since drawn an ethics complaint from one of the people whose information was disclosed. Such communiqués can be made public at a council member’s discretion under state law, but her decision generated controversy and ultimately a number of retaliatory threats — including one to expose her personal information.

Cano was accused of “doxing,” Internet parlance for publicizing someone’s personal information online. But Cano rejected the label Wednesday, saying the term is typically associated with the intentional targeting and harassment of someone.

“I did neither of those,” Cano said. “And my intention was never to put anyone in harm’s way.”

But Stephen Dent — whose phone number, e-mail and a business address were posted — said he recently filed a complaint over the incident. A city spokesman confirmed Tuesday that there is a pending ethics complaint against Cano, but no other information about it is public.

“Basically, what I said was that I thought her behavior was just unethical to do,” Dent said. “That I had contacted many, many politicians over the course of my life, and nothing like this has ever happened.”

Dent and others submitted the messages through an online form that asked for optional phone number and address information. It noted that the message would be subject to the state’s open-records law.

Cano said she posted the messages because “I think that it’s a way to keep this public discussion going and keep it in public light. And not pretend like I hadn’t gotten any e-mails or ignore them.”

As for why she included the contact information, rather than redacting it, Cano said it wasn’t feasible in the rush of posting live Twitter updates about the rally.

“Honestly, I just didn’t have time,” Cano said. “I was at the mall, using my phone, I was running around. It was kind of a thing that was happening at the moment and responding to those issues in that timely manner matters.”

Swift backlash

Cano later deleted the tweets and said she worried that the online backlash from what she described as the “white supremacy community” was detracting from the broader point of the protests.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis organized the Dec. 23 protests at the Mall of America, both terminals of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and on the light rail Blue Line. The events were the latest in a series of demonstrations since the police killing of Jamar Clark, an unarmed black man, in mid-November.

Cano said she was concerned that the chatter about her tweets would “take away from the broader goals of the Black Lives Matter movement and the issues of police accountability.”

“So that’s why I took them down,” she said. “It wasn’t because I felt that I had done something illegal, because I knew I hadn’t. It wasn’t because I second-guessed myself, because I stand by my actions. I don’t think I did anything unethical.”

Still, some of the response was fierce. Cano said she received a text message from an unknown phone number that included her own Social Security number and a threat to publish it. Online comments Cano sent to the Star Tribune on Wednesday show that slurs and vulgarity poured onto her Facebook page. An e-mail sent to an aide said “your days are numbered” and quoted several Bible verses.

Dent said most of the feedback he received after Cano posted his message and contact information was positive, though he now ignores many of the calls.

“I’m about as liberal as you can get in this world,” Dent said. “And I hate to say it, but my goodness it’s all the conservatives that are supporting me. It makes me nervous.”

Ethics complaints against council members are reviewed by a citizen Ethical Practices Board, which presents its findings to the City Council for a determination of sanctions.

 

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