Minneapolis City Council Member Alondra Cano is drawing sharp criticism after using Twitter to broadcast private cellphone numbers and e-mail addresses of critics who wrote in discontent about her involvement in Wednesday’s Black Lives Matter rally.
Stephen Dent, who said he had previously contributed to Cano’s election campaign, wrote a message to Cano through the city website saying that she was no longer fit to serve on the council by “closing private property” and “supporting illegal actions” when she appeared at the protest.
Cano then tweeted Dent’s message, as well as his private e-mail address and phone number to her roughly 2,000 followers, as well as the private information of at least three other critics.
The practice of using the Internet to publicize personal information like home and e-mail addresses and cellphone numbers is known as “doxing.” Cano eventually deleted the tweets, but not before her actions went viral on the Internet.
“What she did to me and others put a huge chill on our democratic society,” Dent said in a phone interview Thursday. “It has broken my trust with public officials.”
Cano did not respond to phone calls, texts or tweets Thursday.
The Cano imbroglio was the latest fallout from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations at the Mall of America and the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, which included arrests of at least 12 protesters. The protests spread from the Bloomington shopping mall to light rail to the airport and caused considerable confusion and chaos on one of the biggest travel and shopping days of the year.
Cano’s critics were further angered that she implied they were racists in a Wednesday tweet: “Not surprised that Im being targeted 4 supporting today’s #BlackLivesMatter event. Data practices requests are helpful in exposing racism,” she wrote, referring to her use of the state’s public records law to publicize the personal information of her critics.
“That tells me she’s portraying me as a racist, and it’s wrong because I’m not,” said Laurie Grady, who lives in Cano’s south Minneapolis ward and called herself a lifelong Democrat. Cano posted Grady’s e-mail address Wednesday.
“She knows nothing about me,” said Monica Chevalier, another Cano critic whose information was posted.
Dent said that as a gay man, he understands discrimination and is sympathetic to the aims of Black Lives Matter, but does not believe Cano should have been participating in the protests.
As for posting his cellphone and e-mail address, “I understand the law allows her to do this. But what she did was unethical,” said Dent, an author and organizational psychologist.
He said he has filed an ethics complaint with the city.
Since Cano tweeted out his phone number, Dent said he has received lots of feedback, “99 percent” positive, he said.
The posts are no longer on Cano’s Twitter feed.
This is not the first time Cano has posted constituent correspondence that identified the sender’s e-mail, doing so as recently as November.
A tweet that remains on her feed reads: “Just stating the facts so residents understand that there are no ‘private messages’ to elected officials.”
The City Council contact form on the city website includes this warning: “Information you provide is subject to the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. This law classifies certain information as available to the public on request.”
City Council members can make correspondence public at their own discretion, according to the state’s public records law, though most don’t and especially not with personal information such as phone numbers or e-mail addresses.
Grady said she feels Cano has cheated her of her right to express disagreement with government officials and urged others not to be intimidated.
“This will not stop me from expressing my disagreements with elected officials, and I don’t want anyone else to feel they have to stop contacting their elected officials, she said. “Use your First Amendment rights.”
J. Patrick Coolican • 651-925-5042