An apparent incident with a SWAT team led to the arrest of a transgenderCanadian Twitch streamer Keffals last week in London, Ontario. Now she is calling attention to her mistreatment while in police custody for a crime she did not commit.
"On August 5th, I was woken up with an assault rifle pointed at me and arrested for a crime I didn't commit," Clara Sorrenti, or Keffals, tweeted. "I need your help."
An email from someone pretending to be Sorrenti was sent to every City Council member in London, claiming she had an illegal gun and was going to attack her family and "go to city hall and shoot every cisgender person" she saw, the content creator explained.
Sorrenti posted a video to her YouTube channel Tuesday with the caption "My life is in danger. I need your help." In the video, she explained that because of the email, police responded by bringing the SWAT team to her property. Police seized her computers and harassed her in a transphobic manner, she said. The email "was an obvious attempt to make the police humiliate me," she said.
When she was arrested, the police referred to her by her deadname and she was even booked her under her deadname, Sorrenti says. She adds that throughout the process she was mistreated, misgendered, and deadnamed.
Sorrenti took to Twitter, indicating her intentions to move immediately, urging her fans and the wider public to make donations to her GoFundMe page.
She tweeted, "Because publicizing what happened is going to encourage more people to impersonate me and attempt to get the police to terrorize me, I need to move immediately. Any money I receive after recouping my losses and moving will be put towards a legal fund."
In her video, she explains that a week prior, she was in Toronto where somebody tried to send authorities to her location to scare her, but the local police immediately chalked up the incident to a SWATting attempt.
In London, however, this was not the case.
"During the arrest, the police officer referred to me by my deadname," she says. "The fact that a fake email led to London police services booking me under my deadname reveals the prejudice many police have toward transgender people."
Sorrenti says that after the police interrogated her and realized that this had happened to her before she was released without charges. However, the police are holding onto evidence such as her phone and other devices she needs to access her digital life. Additionally, Sorrenti's fiance's Ph.D.-related materials were confiscated on electronic devices.
Sorrenti says the incident has "completely destroyed" the lives of herself and her fiance, with computers and cell phones being taken away by the police. The process of having these items looked over by digital forensic professionals could take "months," according to her lawyer.
"SWATting is a crime. Identity theft is a crime," she says. "And because it was a crime that was motivated by hatred against transgender people, it was a hate crime perpetrated against me.
Instead of the police helping me," she says, "they victimized me for being the victim of a hate crime."
At publication time, her GoFundMe campaign had raised more than $60,000.
On Wednesday, local police responded to Sorrenti's arrest and allegations.
"It has come to my attention that Ms. Sorrenti was referred to during her time in London police custody by an incorrect name and gender. We acknowledge the distress this has caused Ms. Sorrenti and we will be reviewing the occurrence to understand how that might have happened. At this time, we are still in the process of gathering the information necessary for this review," police chief Steve Williams said in a statement.
He added, "The London Police Service is committed to bias-free policing and treating all individuals with respect and dignity. We work closely with LGBT2QSIA community partners in London to ensure we are responsive to the needs of the community, and to address any concerns they may have. We acknowledge that despite our best efforts we may fall short at times, and in those situations, we learn, we educate, and we do better. We are in contact with Ms. Sorrenti and will share our findings with her once our review has concluded."