Trigger Warning: This article contains in graphic detail death threats and abusive language.
Multiple death threats have been made towards SUSU President Emily Dawes in the wake of her controversial tweets suggesting the painting over or covering up of a World War One commemorative mural.
SUSU have declined to comment further on the mural story, referring to their original statement published. However, Wessex Scene can confirm that the police have been contacted in relation to the death threats posted on the SUSU President’s social media profiles.
The tweets in question have now been removed from her @SotonPres twitter account and Emily Dawes has issued a public apology. Several sabbatical officer official social media accounts have been transferred from public to private setting also. To view the full details of the tweets and Emily Dawes’ subsequent apology, click here. Another sabbatical officer, VP Sports Steve Gore, also briefly stated on Friday in a subsequently deleted Facebook post that the SUSU President was ‘on leave until further notice and therefore will not be reachable for correspondence or for her day to day duties’.
As well as SUSU, Wessex Scene contacted the University regarding the death threats. A university spokesperson provided the following statement:
We take these matters very seriously and would advise that students who are affected should contact the Student Advice Centre who will be able to help whilst staff should report any abuse immediately through their line manager with a view to progressing via the University’s normal process for reporting and dealing with inappropriate behaviour.
The university spokesperson also confirmed that the Senate room in which the Rothenstein Mural is held has not been permanently locked and has been in normal use since Wednesday.
Wessex Scene has come across a number of death threats, as well as generally abusive language, posted on the official SUSU President Facebook account as comments to posts. For example:
The same individual who posted the latter comment also wished someone who criticised them for it ‘an early death’.
At least one post has made implicit death threats via the referencing to Saudi Arabia, following the recent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey, including this comment:
Comments of an abusive and anti-American nature have also featured, including in the following comment:
One post photoshopped Nazi flags into the hand of Emily Dawes, while a nude photo was also posted on the account by one profile, claiming it to be of Emily Dawes. Meanwhile, abusive language like ‘cunt’, ‘bitch’ and ‘FUCKING Witch’ and much more besides has been used in a significant number of comments.
The overwhelming number of comments seen by Wessex Scene which are of an abusive or threatening nature seem to have been posted by profiles not belonging to University of Southampton students.
Some people have commented to condemn or sarcastically criticise those resorting to death threats and abusive language, including the comment in the screenshot below:
Under Section 16 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861, the making of a threat to kill is an offence wherein the defendant intends the victim to fear that their threat would be carried out, on them or a third person. The maximum penalty for ‘making threats to kill’ is 10 years in prison.
Wessex Scene has contacted Hampshire Police Constabulary for a comment on the seriousness with which social media death threats are taken.