The Safe Place That Became a Viral Nightmare
But later in a statement to university investigators, Gustafsson said he told the men that the university had no power to remove material from a non-university website. He or someone else at ASU could have reached out to Tekola’s group and asked them to take down the video, although as far as I can tell from the interviews and documents I’ve reviewed, this seems to be the case. never happened. He or someone else could have talked to Beckerman and Niles about the history and purpose of that room, perhaps to make a better sense. But in that written statement to investigators, Gustafson said only that she assured the men that they were allowed into the room, she agreed to excuse them from her classes that day, and she told them that What happened will be investigated.
Beckerman arrived home later that afternoon, frustrated and exhausted, and began preparing for another night shift in the ER, something he hadn’t slept for in about 60 hours. “Then an hour before I had to be at work,” he said, “it went viral.”
Friends from Georgia, then Virginia, called, saying they had recognized him in a video online. Beckerman went to the ER, scared that someone would recognize him, too scared that his address would appear online, that his parents, but also his younger sisters and his wife, could be in danger when he worked. Huh.
“I was mentally destroyed,” he said. “I was in the middle of a panic attack.”
Tekola remembers tracking down a few hateful posts on his group’s Instagram page and didn’t think much about it until a friend reached out, possibly around the same time Beckerman also heard from his friends. “They’re dragging you down on Twitter too hard,” the man said.
Tekola was identified online, and Qureshi was soon identified. His Instagram page was flooded with angry messages and emails started piling up in his inbox. Strangers were calling, messaging and posting about them online. “I was attacked at every crossroads: homosexuality and racist and sexist threats and rape threats and fat embarrassment,” Tekola told me. “They were sending us pictures of black people killed by police, dead black bodies.” One email specifically haunted Tekola. “You will be invited to the barbecue, not as a guest … Let’s give ourselves a ‘picnic’,” it read. “Take a moment to learn about Southern white culture.” Below was a photo of the 1916 lynching of a 17-year-old man named Jesse Washington.
As of Friday morning, the two-minute excerpt of the video posted on Twitter had been viewed by more than a million people—a clip that ends as Beckerman despairs and shouts, “I’m working 60 hours a week.” I am staying and going to school because my parents just don’t give me money. By the end of that day, 3.6 million people had watched the short clip. Beckerman got off the night shift and slept for an hour and a half. When he woke up, his mother found him an attorney, a man named Craig Morgan, who told me Told that people were trying to “politicize” what had already happened. “The Tuckers of the world wanted to talk to Carlson Chase,” he said. “These were political websites giving him laptops and money . I was like, ‘Chase, I don’t think so,’ and Chase was like, ‘I just want this to go away.'”