A London, Ontario-based trans activist who is popular on the online platform Twitch says she fears for her life after police officers arrested her at gunpoint and took seriously a threat sent by someone trying to put his life in danger.
Clara Sorrenti, 28, says she was the victim of swatting, a practice in which someone calls to threaten police, resulting in armed officers being sent to someone else’s home or work.
“The work I do is important and people thank me for doing it every day,” Sorrenti told CBC News. “I think I’m still in shock, to be honest. When I saw the police gun pointed at me, I actually thought I was going to die. I’ve never been so terrified in my life.”
Sorrenti goes by the name Keffals on Twitch, where people can stream themselves playing video games. He has more than 42,000 followers and now speaks about US anti-trans laws and transgender rights. Sorrenti transitioned as a teenager.
Sorrenti was a candidate for the Communist Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election.
“I get messages almost every day from trans people, especially young trans people, saying that I gave them courage, that they can be who they are,” she said. “But people hate me and want to shut me up.”
That online bullying has sometimes seeped into the real world, including in the incident earlier this month, Sorrenti said.
On August 5, she said, she was in her apartment and was woken up by several London policemen banging on her door. They filed a search warrant for a gun, ammunition, firearm cartridges and cleaning tools, a gun case, a cell phone and a computer.
Threats to councilors
“The arresting officer took me into the hallway, pushed me against the wall, put me in handcuffs, told me what the charges were. They took me out and searched my apartment for eight hours,” Sorrenti said.
Police also used his birth name, Sorrenti said, which is not his current name. His former name is also listed on police documents, although it is no longer his legal name.
London police said they were contacted on August 2. 5 by city officials about violent threats.
“Officers began an investigation and, through the evidence obtained, were able to obtain the judicial authority to search a residence” in the city, an officer told CBC News.
“Ms. Sorrenti was arrested as the investigation progressed and later released without charge pending analysis of the seized electronic devices. This investigation is ongoing and at this time we are unable to provide a firm date as to when it will conclude.”
Police told Sorrenti that someone had used her name and address to send threats to London City Councilors and confess to a murder, leading to the police raid, she said. The person who wrote the threats also used the name they were given at birth, something that should have set off alarm bells if the police were sensitive to trans issues, Sorrenti said.
“No one in my life ever refers to me by that name. It’s been a decade since anyone did that. The only reason people would use it is to make fun of me, to try to take away my power and dignity.”
Her brother spoke to London police in March to warn them that Sorrenti might be the victim of a slap, she said. While she is influential in the trans community, she has also faced a barrage of attacks on social media that were detailed in a Washington Post article about her in June.
In a YouTube post, Sorrenti said that while visiting Toronto on July 31, someone posing as her had threatened local politicians. She said Toronto police spoke to her and attributed the incident to an attempted crush. Toronto police told CBC News they have an open file and the incident is still under investigation.
Sorrenti wants police to get better training on how to deal with transgender people. He has also created an online fundraiser that has raised nearly $32,000 in five hours. The money is for moving, because someone with bad intentions has his address, Sorrenti said.
Leave a Comment