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Far-right activist Laura Loomer handcuffed herself to Twitter’s NYC headquarters

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‘They may have banned me from Twitter but now I’m handcuffed to Twitter’

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Earlier this afternoon, alt-right Jewish commentator Laura Loomer handcuffed herself to the front doors of Twitter’s New York headquarters, while wearing a Yellow Star and carrying a bullhorn and a number of printed-out tweets. She says she’s demonstrating in protest of the alleged shadowbanning of conservatives on the social media platform, and the “double standard” of allowing figures like anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan to remain on the site.

“Twitter is upholding sharia when they ban me for tweeting facts about sharia law,” Loomer shouted early on in a Periscope live stream that kicked off around 3:45PM ET Thursday. “I’m here today to stand in solidarity with the millions of conservatives around the world who have been silenced,” she added, referencing previous far-right figures who have been deplatformed, including Chuck Johnson, Milo Yiannopoulos, Roger Stone, and Alex Jones.

Loomer was permanently banned from the platform earlier this month for hate speech against Minnesotan Democratic Representative-elect Ilhan Omar. In the offending tweets, she accused Omar of being “pro-sharia.” Around this same time last year, she and several white nationalists including Richard Spencer and Jason Kessler had their Twitter verification check mark revoked.

NYPD officers have erected a barricade around her demonstration and moved onlookers away from the Chelsea office’s doors. Police also have told onlookers that they have no plans to remove her from the premises, or to press charges, without Twitter asking them to remove her. Police have told onlookers and Loomer herself that, as of yet, the social media company isn’t currently pressing charges.

“I want my Twitter,” she told NYPD negotiators on the scene, as several of her associates filmed and spoke to her off-camera. “Twitter and Facebook have silenced me.”

Police negotiate with far-right activist Laura Loomer outside Twitter’s New York headquarters, where she has handcuffed herself.
Photo by Julia Alexander / The Verge

Loomer also quoted from a lawsuit filed earlier this year by Larry Klayman against Apple, Google, Facebook, and Twitter over alleged antitrust violations. Among other things, the suit accuses the companies of having “entered into an illegal leftist agenda and designs to effectively overthrow President Trump and his administration.”

She announced that she had joined the class-action suit today. It’s one of several lawsuits brought on behalf of far-right figures either banned or demonetized by web platforms, none of which have made any significant headway in courts.

Loomer has claimed she will not remove the handcuffs until CEO Jack Dorsey reinstates her account. (She also claims to have thrown away the keys.) Twitter employees on the street are being asked to show identification and be escorted by security in order to enter the building.

“I’m not saying people shouldn’t be banned but why are they banning me? ... I think there’s a double standard. It’s egregious,” Loomer tells The Verge. “[Dorsey] thinks I’m a terrorist. I’m not a terrorist.” She adds that she will go to Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters “if I have to.”

“If I have to, I’ll pee on myself,” she continues. “I haven’t eaten or drunken today.”

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

“We have notified the relevant authorities who are responding,” a spokesperson for Twitter tells The Verge, adding that “law enforcement is taking the lead” in the situation. “The account holder was suspended for violating our policies. We apply the Twitter Rules impartially and not based on ideology.”

After several hours of complaining about the cold, Loomer eventually requested to be removed from the door, and the handcuffs were severed with bolt cutters, according to the police. She was escorted from the door to a car, and was not placed under arrest.

Update November 29th, 5:18PM ET: This story has been updated with an official statement from Twitter, as well as ongoing updates to police activity and the demonstration as a whole.

Update November 29th, 5:41PM ET: This story has been updated with new information from Twitter and the NYPD as well as quotes from Loomer.

Update November 29th, 6:15PM ET: This story has been updated with details about Loomer’s exit from Twitter headquarters.