St. Louis residents who reported coronavirus shutdown violations are being harassed for it online: report
St. Louis, like many other cities in the U.S., has been shut down in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Officials have set up ways in which residents of Missouri’s largest city can report shutdown violations. And according to reporters for St. Louis’ KSDK TV Channel 5 (an NBC-affiliated station), some whistleblowers who have reported violations are being harassed for it on Facebook.
PJ Randhawa and Erin Richey of KSDK report, “A spree of social media posts this week warn that St. Louis County released the information it got from people who reported businesses in violation of the stay-at-home order.”
A Facebook post, according to Randhawa and Richey, reads, “Here ya go. The gallery of snitches, busybodies, and employees who rat out their own neighbors and employers over the panic-demic.”
One of the St. Louis residents who reported a shutdown violation, a woman named Patricia, told KSDK she didn’t expect to be harassed for it on Facebook and see her personal information posted online. Patricia, who suffers from lupus, noted that the spread of coronavirus could be especially dangerous for someone with her condition.
Randhawa and Richey report, “What Patricia did is exactly what St. Louis County intended when it established two ways for people to submit tips on non-compliant businesses. County government announced the creation of an online form and a dedicated e-mail address for those tips in the last week of March. In a little over a week, those channels received more than 900 tips from the public, the released documents show. Among the complaints are employees and their family members asking for anonymity because they feared backlash from employers.”
Patricia told KSDK that after being abused for reporting a shutdown violation, she would feel unsafe doing it again.
“When there is something that happens next time,” she told KSDK, “I’m not going to feel safe or protected enough to call the local authorities.”