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Canadian woman threatened with being 'dropped in an acid bath' for boycotting Trump products

CBC logo CBC 2017-04-11 Sophia Harris
Amanda Dexter from Wakefield, Que., is boycotting the Hudson's Bay because it's selling Ivanka Trump products. (Amanda Dexter) © CBC Amanda Dexter from Wakefield, Que., is boycotting the Hudson's Bay because it's selling Ivanka Trump products. (Amanda Dexter)

When Amanda Dexter did an interview with CBC News in February on why she was boycotting Trump products, she wasn't prepared for what happened next.

She was immediately bombarded with vicious attacks on Twitter.

"I've never experienced anything like it. It was so shocking," she says from her home in Wakefield, Que.

Cruel comments included calling her a "whiny and jealous fat ugly bitch, a "lard ass leftist," a troll, and other words not fit to print.

One person told her to "F**k off and climb in your liberal hole you nasty woman."

Dexter also received threatening tweets. 

One person wanted her "dropped in an acid bath." Another person warned, "We'll find her soon."

"It scared me," said Dexter. "It wouldn't be terribly hard to find me."

'This is terrifying'

Dexter disagrees with some of U.S. President Donald Trump's policies, such as his travel ban. So she joined a group of Canadians boycotting the Hudson's Bay Company for carrying daughter Ivanka Trump's line of clothing and accessories.

"She's assisting him in making policies that I fundamentally disagree with, so why would I give her my money?" says Dexter.

Her main form of protest is tweeting the Bay nearly daily, telling the Canadian-based department store it should stop carrying Ivanka Trump's brand. She and other protestors call their movement #baycott.

When Dexter outlined her plan of attack in a CBC news story, she suddenly became a target herself.

Many of the comments attacked her appearance along with her anti-Trump stance. Some even implied she was envious of Ivanka Trump. "Jealous? R U Ugly troll?" posted one person.

What upset her the most were the threatening tweets. A Robert Ostan from Palm Desert, Calif., took particular interest in Dexter.

He called her an "ugly racist woman" who should stay out of U.S. politics and "needs to be banned." He's also the one who declared that "we'll find her soon."

CBC News asked Ostan for comment but he didn't respond.

Dexter says she was also stalked by another person who was writing "filthy" comments on most of her own tweets, including ones she sent to her two daughters.

"I almost lost my mind," says Dexter. I thought, "'Oh my God, they're going to figure out who my kids are. This is terrifying.'"

That's when Dexter reached her breaking point. She had been reporting the offensive tweets to Twitter and blocking people writing ugly comments. But the vicious messages kept coming. So she decided to stop vocalizing her views on Twitter.

"It was too ugly. It was upsetting me," she says.

Other Trump boycotters have also received cruel taunts on Twitter.

"It feels like you're punched in the gut the first time it happens," says Amanda St. Jean from Guelph, Ont.

The most offensive tweet for her was a photo she received of an ISIS member holding a severed head.

"That was sort of creepy because that's all it was," she says.

St. Jean believes the Twitter attacks are a deliberate attempt to silence the anti-Trump movement.

"It's an attempt to de-democratize that platform. People want to shut other people up."

Social media has always been a hotbed of hate because people can make comments anonymously.

But the Trump era has provided some people with further motivation to blast their critics online, says sociologist Ellen Berrey.

Trump has promised to make America great again partly by taking a hardline approach on issues such as immigration and refugees.

That has created an "us versus them" mentality that some people have decided gives them licence to attack anyone who is different or who opposes their viewpoint, says Berrey.

"If you listen to what he says, it's so much of, 'We're good; they're bad.' And not only, 'They're bad,' [but] 'They need to be punished,'" says the University of Toronto professor. "[It's] very much about degrading the other side."

Won't back down

Although Dexter feels she has taken a beating from the other side, she has decided she won't be silenced. After sitting quiet for about a month, she has returned to Twitter to target the Bay and continue her protest.

"I feel like they won, and I don't want that to happen," says Dexter. "I believe in what I'm doing."

When asked what she would do if she once again receives offensive tweets, Dexter replied, "I'm going to ignore it and press on."

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