Montana state Rep. Zooey Zephyr (D) and her girlfriend, journalist Erin Reed, say they both narrowly avoided attempts to “swat” their homes on Tuesday.
Reed, who is in a relationship with Zephyr, Montana’s first and only out transgender legislator, tweeted about the incident targeting her on Tuesday morning.
“Somebody just attempted to SWAT me for my reporting on transgender legislation and events,” Reed wrote. “Thankfully, I’ve worked closely with the police in my community anticipating this, and the attempt failed. I will never stop advocating for my community and will never be silenced.”
Hours later, Zephyr tweeted that she also had been the target of a similar hoax. “Someone just attempted to SWAT me as well,” she wrote on Tuesday night. “I am fine. An individual reported an anonymous tip targeting my home in Missoula, and the police recognized that it was likely a hoax and called me. I will say again. We will not be deterred. The fight for trans rights goes on.”
Reed says she was contacted by police Tuesday morning after they received an email claiming she was being held hostage at her home in Maryland.
But, Reed told The Advocate, she has long anticipated this type of harassment, which has been used to target and terrorize other notable transgender personalities like Canadian Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti, who goes by the name Keffals on social media. Her reporting and social media posts about trans issues have made Reed a target for online trolls. She says her concerns have only grown as Zephyr has been in the news recently, after Montana Republicans barred her from the floor of the Montana House of Representatives for speaking out against a bill that will outlaw gender-affirming care for trans young people.
Reed says she contacted local law enforcement months ago after learning that her address had been shared on right-wing websites and forums.
“I told them that I want to make sure that if anything happens, they are aware that my address is being shared in places that are known for doxxing, and they told me that they could put a flag on my address back then,” Reed said.
While Reed was told that the flag would not necessarily stop police from responding to her address, in this instance it did work.
“The flag they put did work, and they didn’t have to come to bust my door down,” she says. Reed says she was contacted by police who said they “were going to be on their way to do a wellness check, but they wanted to call because they said that they had a note or a message that they had received information saying that I was being held hostage.”
A Montgomery County Police spokesperson confirmed Reed’s account. “An email was sent to the Montgomery County Fifth District station. Officers responded to her residence this morning for a [welfare check],” the spokesperson told The Advocate. “They spoke with Ms. Reed, and she stated that she was fine and that her ‘information got leaked.’ She stated that she provided her information to the police department because she figured something like this might happen.”
“It’s good that this happened the way it did for me in the sense that I was able to have that foresight, but not everybody has that foresight, and not every police department is going to respond the way that this one did,” Reed said, adding that the harassment would not stop her from reporting on trans issues. “I’m going to continue to do what I do every day because this just goes to show the level of hate that’s out there and the level of animosity that’s out there towards my community.”
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a district court judge denied a request from Zephyr and the ACLU of Montana to grant a temporary injunction that would have allowed the trans lawmaker back on the floor of the state’s House of Representatives during the current legislative session. The Montana Legislature adjourned on Tuesday. With the legislative session ended, Zephyr was allowed to return to her seat on the house floor.