A London, Ontario-based trans activist popular on online platform Twitch says she fears for her life after police officers arrested her at gunpoint and took seriously a threat sent by someone trying to putting her life in danger.
Clara Sorrenti, 28, says she was the victim of slapping – a practice where someone threatened police, which resulted in armed officers being sent to another person’s home or work.
“The work I do is important and people thank me for it every day,” Sorrenti told CBC News. “I think I’m still in shock to be honest. When I saw the police gun pointed at me, I actually thought I was going to die. I’ve never been so scared in my life.”
Sorrenti is distributed by Keffals on Twitch where people can broadcast themselves while playing video games. She has more than 42,000 followers and now speaks about America’s anti-trans legislation and transgender rights. Sorrenti transferred when she was a teenager.
Sorrenti ran for the Communist Party of Canada in the 2019 federal election.
“I get messages almost every day from trans people, especially young trans people, saying I’ve encouraged them to be who they are,” she said. “But people hate me and want to shut me up.”
This online harassment has sometimes spilled over into the real world, including in the incident earlier this month, Sorrenti said.
On August 5, she said, she was at her flat and was awakened by several London police officers banging on her door. They produced a search warrant looking for a handgun, ammunition, firearm cartridges and cleaning tools, a gun case, a cell phone and a computer.
threats against councillors
“The arresting officer dragged me into the hallway, pinned me against the wall, handcuffed me, told me the charges. They took me away and searched my home for eight hours,” Sorrenti said.
Police also used her birth name, Sorrenti said, which she is not now. Her former name is also on police documents, although it is no longer her real name.
London Police said they were contacted by City Hall officials on August 5 about violent threats.
“Officials opened an investigation and, through the evidence obtained, were able to successfully obtain warrants to search an apartment in the city,” an official told CBC News.
“Ms Sorrenti was arrested in the course of the investigation and later released without charge pending analysis of the confiscated electronic equipment.
Police told Sorrenti that someone had used her name and address to send threats to London councilors and to confess to a murder, prompting a police raid, she said. The person who wrote the threats also used the name she was given at birth, something that should have set off alarm bells if police were sensitive to transgender issues, Sorrenti said.
“Nobody in my life calls me by that name. It’s been a decade since anyone did that. The only reason people could use it is to mock me to try and take away my power and dignity.”
Her brother spoke to London police in March to warn them Sorrenti could be a victim of beatings, she said. Though influential in the trans community, she has also faced a spate of social media attacks, which were detailed in a Washington Post article about her in June.
In a YouTube post, Sorrenti said someone posing as her threatened local politicians during a visit to Toronto on July 31. She said Toronto Police spoke to her and attributed the incident to an attempted clapping. Toronto police told CBC News they had an open file and the incident was still under investigation.
Sorrenti wants the police to be better trained on how to deal with transgender people. She also set up an online fundraiser that raised nearly $32,000 in five hours. The money is supposed to move because someone with bad intentions has their address, Sorrenti said.