On Sunday, a Twitter user named @bigotbasher posted a photo of a man riding a bus in Seattle with a swastika armband.
The same user later posted a screen capture of this text:
Shortly after, this was posted:
The total time elapsed from the first tweet until the last? Just under 90 minutes.
The full YouTube video was quickly posted (it’s currently at the top of the Seattle subreddit). You can watch it below, though be warned, it’s a graphic video of a guy (albeit a guy wearing a swastika armband) getting knocked out. (And, for what it’s worth, our stance at Select All is officially pacifist, if only because we are all very physically weak.)
Another user, @teethnclaws, who also posted about the same man in downtown Seattle, spoke to BuzzFeed via DM defending the punch. “I would say that we successfully identified, tracked and coordinated to neutralize a clear and present danger to Seattle,” @teethnclaws wrote. “Whether we coordinated the actual punch or not, I, for one, applaud the anonymous hero.”
It’s hard to feel much sympathy for a guy wearing a literal Nazi armband getting IDed on the internet and tracked down — especially if, as it was claimed, he was threatening and harassing other people in downtown Seattle. But internet mob justice like this can cut both ways.
People were initially posting videos of the faces of everyone involved in the Seattle incident unblurred, potentially placing people into legal jeopardy. 4chan attempted to track down the guy who clocked Richard Spencer earlier this year (though the man they identified was, ultimately, an already-dead guy). And the horrible series of mistakes made by the amateur sleuths at Reddit after the Boston Bombing, where several innocent people were named as potential terrorists, should loom large in any discussion about broadcasting the face and location of an individual.
Twitter user @teethnclaws, when contacted over DM by Select All, says that using the internet like this is necessary. “[Fascists] already do this. The right has already murdered 27 people this year in the U.S., including one of my dear comrades. I’ve been stabbed twice by them in seven years,” he wrote. “The right is already tracking us, killing us. This is why we organize in numbers, and why we wear those scary black masks. When we are identified, we can lose our lives. Nazis just lose their jobs. So, am I worried that fascists will use our tactics? Yes. Is that a good point? No. Tactics can be used by anyone.”