Amid the chaos on Saturday night, looters threw a brick through the window of our Raleigh office while news editor Leigh Tauss was inside getting water after being teargassed. Later that night, after she’d left, someone ransacked it, then set fire to the furniture, which turned on the sprinklers, which in turn fried all of the office equipment. The space is a total loss.  

The night after the office was destroyed, our team was back on the streets to bring you this week’s cover story, which will be online later today. Our writers and photographers put themselves squarely in the thick of things, embedding with protesters as they faced down cops in riot gear. It was, in short, a long, emotionally draining weekend, both for our staff and for most of downtown Raleigh. 

The response from our community has been incredible.

In just two days, more than 500 people donated money to help the INDY overcome this latest hurdle. Several others volunteered to help with cleanup or rebuilding our office (which won’t be necessary, but thank you). 

The response from the worst corners of the internet has been, well, not so wonderful. 

On Sunday, Leigh tweeted photos of our smashed-up office with a note that she was devastated by what had happened. In what seemed like no time at all, that tweet—along with others that contained basic reporting, such as a video from a press conference with Police Chief Cassandra Deck-Brown—began circulating in right-wing media: the faux-intellectual pardoned felon Dinesh D’Souza, concrete milkshake faker Andy Ngo, the darkest sewers of Reddit, various “news” sites you’ve never heard of because you are not a knuckle-dragging idiot. 

Their hordes of white supremacists and other alt-right trolls—pretty much all dudes, shockingly—arose from the ninth circle of internet hell, bombarding Leigh’s Twitter mentions and DMs and email with all sorts of vileness, thousands upon thousands of messages, all with the same general theme, smug keyboard warriors mocking someone who put herself on the front lines of civil unrest to tell the story of what was happening in her city. 

Here’s one (very) representative example (TW: racism): 

I could show you a hundred more just like that. More troubling, some of them obtained Leigh’s phone number and started calling her from blocked numbers to leave threatening messages.

These are lovely, well-adjusted people. 

It has long been understood that women journalists bear the brunt of online harassment and threats. Trolls—like the alt-right generally—tend to be misogynists who feel compelled to take out their insecurities on women, like Leigh, who are smarter and more accomplished than they will ever be. 

There’s probably nothing I can say to make them rethink their lives or become decent human beings. So I’ll just say this: The INDY—and I, and this communitywill continue to stand behind Leigh Tauss. She will keep reporting, keep writing, and keep agitating for a better Raleigh. 

And, my dear trolls, her life and her work will matter in a way yours never will.  

Contact editor in chief Jeffrey C. Billman at

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One reply on “A Note to Our Trolls”

  1. Thank you for your efforts this weekend to document RPD’s failed approach to policing. I’ve been sickened by the corporate media’s whitewash of this weekend’s events.

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