Website accused of targeting politically active college students

Lyanne Melendez Image
Friday, May 29, 2015
Website targeting politically active students infringes on free speech
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A website called Canary Mission is targeting University of California Berkeley and other college students for expressing their political views.

BERKELEY, Calif. -- The cradle of the free speech movement is being tested in a big way.

A website called Canary Mission is targeting University of California Berkeley and other college students for expressing their political views. One of their goals is to prevent these students from getting jobs.

In the past, coal miners took canaries into coal mines to detect dangerous gases. If there were toxins, the canary would die before killing the miners. It was their warning system. This website Canary Mission warns employers of who are protesting, particularly against Israel.

Having a political position may cost you a job, that's what those behind the website are telling all students, especially those with what they claim support anti-American and anti-Israeli messages.

Among those targeted is the current UC student regent Sadia Saifuddin. The website has a complete profile on her, including what they call infamous quotes.

"They are definitely trying to bully individuals," Saifuddin said. "It's a fear tactic, right. So, they are trying to get individuals to not say anything, or to think their jobs are going to be on the line, or that no one is going to hire them because they have an opinion."

The people behind the website don't hide their intentions.

Those on the website include students and professors from UC Berkeley, University of California Los Angeles, Stanford University, Northeastern University, Columbia University, and the list goes on.

There are even former students like Nolan Pack, who now works for the American Civil Liberties Union and Jorge Pacheco, a second-grade teacher in San Jose.

Who they are and where Canary Mission operates from is never revealed. After contacting the organization by email, they wrote back ABC7 News to say, "Due to the somewhat clandestine nature of our mission, it is difficult to be as available to comment as we'd like."

But it's clear they are targeting those involved in the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, known as BDS, which calls on colleges to increase economic and political pressure on Israel.

David Kadosh is with the Zionist Organization of America.

"BDS, we find, is often rooted in historic antisemitism," Kadosh said.

The website also allows anyone to contribute information they have on any individual. Some colleges say that is of concern. One of the people on that site said to prevent people from exercising their first amendment right is very troubling.

A Cal spokesperson said UC Berkeley has no connection with the website and was not even aware of its existence until ABC7 News called the school. ome people started hearing about it just a few days ago. Already, the group has more than 1,000 followers on Twitter.