After nearly 5,000 people signed the petition calling on the Montreal Police Department to investigate the thousands of death threats issued by Dennis Markuze, the Montreal Police have responded via Twitter that the case is officially open.
Markuze has been threatening atheists, scientists, writers, public figures and their friends for more than a decade under the pseudonym of “David Mabus.” As the threats began to increase in intensity and frequency, his victims decided it was time to take action.
Kyle VanderBeek, a San Francisco-based engineer with Change.org, launched the campaign after he became a target of Mabus’ attacks. He cites a blog entry written by Montreal-based journalist William Raillant-Clark about Mabus as the inspiration for his petition on Change.org. “I started the petition hoping to gather together the affected community and unite our voice,” states VanderBeek.
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and attention from other prominent bloggers spurred an incredible amount of interest which overwhelmed the Montreal Police. “The deluge of signatures on the petition caused the Montreal Police to tweet several times, asking us to stop.”
Local news soon picked up the case and spread it to wider national and international news outlets. Along the way, computer security expert Tim Farley joined the effort, gathering evidence and coordinating communication between targets, various local police departments across the US, and the Montreal police. A detective then began contacting several targets who had filed police reports to gather information and evidence for the case.
“I'm pleased that the petition had its desired effect,” says VanderBeek. “Combining the petition, a local stake-holder, and media coverage has resulted in attention from police on this matter. It has even gotten the attention of Mabus himself, who has been quiet since Friday. We will now leave the matter in the capable hands of the Montreal Police and legal authorities.”
So thank you and congratulations to the nearly 5,000 supporters who decided enough was enough with Mabus’s death threats. Now he has the opportunity to be brought to justice and to stop the senseless and violent threats.
For several years Dennis Markuze has harassed and threatened scientists, writers, public figures, atheists, and their friends under the pseudonym "David Mabus". While this was previously a minor annoyance, the intensity and frequency of his communications have increased.
I believe these threats constitute a violation of Canada's statutes regarding "uttered threats".
These "Mabus" attacks now include hundreds of Twitter accounts (used and discarded as they are reported). He has threatened young boys and girls as well as adults (including Rys Morgan, 16, who was acknowledged by some in the science community for exposing a dangerous quack medical treatment). In fact, anyone who associates with scientifically and skeptically minded people like PZ Myers, Phil Plait, James Randi, Brian Dunning or Michael Shermer is likely to become a target for unsettling rants and threats to their life and well-being.
Markuze has even gone so far as to attend meetings of such people, including attending the American Atheist Convention in October 2010, held Montreal.
It is time for the police to take his threats seriously. The problem must be addressed before it escalates beyond Internet bullying and veiled threats to become something worse. Please make a public statement whether Mr. Markuze has violated Canada's uttered threats laws (criminal code section 264).
Update: The RCMP has responded to my inquiry, declining to act:
"In the province of Quebec, the type of investigation you are requesting in your correspondence falls under the jurisdiction of provincial and municipal police agencies. We will therefore transfer your request to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (Montreal city police). We are aware that the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal has started an investigation on the activities of Markuze. We are confident that they will handle your complaint in a professional manner."
We await an official response from Montreal Police on whether they consider the constant stream of threats to be criminal.
Important Reminder: Please do not engage with or contact the accused. That is the job of the police. This petition is purely to demand action and a public statement from Montreal Police or other relevant authorities. Thank you.