Tue. Jan 19th, 2021

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Reporter Harassed, City Police Respond

2 min read

Following her recent Bullet article about on-campus drug arrests, junior Lindley Estes has been harassed via e-mail and Facebook, but the message that scared her the most was the note taped Monday afternoon to her off-campus apartment door.

The note read, “Karma’s a bitch, And SO ARE YOU.”

Estes alerted the Fredericksburg Police Department, who conducted the drug arrests and investigations.

“The scary thing wasn’t the note, but that they knew where I lived,” Estes said.

The police advised Estes to use security technology, such as a camera, at her apartment. She was told to contact police immediately if anything suspicious occurred, according to Natatia Bledsoe, the public information officer for the Fredericksburg Police Department.

“A watch order has been placed on her residence, which guarantees increased patrol on her street both from uniformed and undercover officers,” said Bledsoe.

Vice President for Student Affairs Doug Searcy said that he does not want to have any students intimidated on campus.

“Intimidation is not acceptable at UMW,” Searcy said.  “We are an open community that needs information.”

He also said that he wants all students who are intimidated on campus to feel empowered so that “our educational environment is preserved.”

Executive Director Frank Lomonte of the Student Press Law Center, an organization that is an advocate for student First Amendment Rights, said that it is common for publications to be intimidated or harassed, but rarely does the harassment single out one reporter.

“People aggrieved by something published should be angry at the publication and not the reporter,” LoMonte said.

LoMonte said that there are legal protections against harassment, threats and attacks, and they apply equally to citizens, journalists or not.

Bledsoe also said that the note on Estes’ door does not fall under the category of a threat or criminal act.

“Expressing displeasure is not a threat,” Bledsoe said.

While the Bullet does not routinely name victims, Estes has agreed to be named because she is worried about the incident.

“I did not do anything wrong,” Estes said.  “I just reiterated what was told to me by the police and press release.  Everyone was contacted for comment.”

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