Clara “Keffals” Sorrenti, a trans streamer and political commentator, was arrested by Canadian police last week after a swatting incident. Keffals was left rattled, saying in a YouTube video recounting the event that the police terrorized her and locked her out of her accounts because she’s “still a suspect in an investigation” of a crime she didn’t commit.
Keffals’ Twitch streams and YouTube videos on politics and LGBTQ+ issues specifically have garnered her a hefty following. She’s weighed in on transphobic comments by journalist Helen Joyce and ratioed the hell outta noted TERF J.K. Rowling. Keffals has also used her platform for activism, such as calling awareness to a California bill that would protect trans youth fleeing to the state. If there is news relating to queerness, chances are Keffals has said something about it. And being as outspoken as she is, Keffals is no stranger to courting controversy. For example, she was temporarily banned from Twitch for “openly talking” about the abuse she gets earlier this year and regularly targets right-wing commentators for their bad takes, like Tim Pool.
That’s all to say that Keffals probably expects harassment in some form, but nothing could’ve prepared her for the morning of Friday, August 5. As she told it in a YouTube video uploaded days later, Keffals was “woken up by London Police Services pointing an assault rifle in [her] face in [her] home.” Apparently, someone impersonating her emailed every city counselor in London, Ontario, stating she killed her mom, was in possession of an illegal firearm, and planned to “go to city hall and shoot every cisgender person” there. There were just two glaring problems: The email was riddled with grammatical errors and had Keffals’ deadname. You’d think Keffals wouldn’t deadname herself, but that didn’t matter to the cops. So, when Keffals was arrested by Ontario police, they booked her in the station under her deadname, which was legally changed more than a decade ago. The cops even misgendered Keffals when talking to her mom, referring to her as Ms. Sorrenti’s “son,” despite Keffals running for political office twice in Canada under her real, legal name: Clara Sorrenti.
A search warrant Keffals showed in the video noted that police were “looking for a handgun, ammunition, cartridges, cleaning tools, a gun case, cellphones, and computers.” The cops seized her personal and work devices, including the computer she streams from, as well as her fiancé’s equipment, which holds the only copy of their Ph.D. thesis and other university documents. Keffals explained that the Ontario police should’ve been privy to these awful swatting calls because it happened to her previously. On July 31 in Toronto, a different email by someone impersonating her was sent to Toronto politicians making similar threats. The sergeant of that police department, Nathan Edward Gibson, called it what it was—a misleading swatting incident, particularly because she doesn’t currently live in the metropolitan city of Toronto—and released Keffals without charging her for a crime or making her a suspect.
London Police Services, however, maintains that Keffals is still a suspect in their ongoing investigation. This is despite the cops recovering no weapons in Keffals’ home, finding her mom alive and well, and her own brother calling the department back in March asking for the family to be put on a no-swatting list. (That request, according to Keffals, was “completely dismissed.”)
“Because of the negligence of the [London Police Services], we were both left functionally unemployed, and I have spent thousands of dollars replacing our phones and computers so our lives aren’t completely ruined by what happened to us,” Keffals said. “After the police interrogated me and realized that this is a situation that has happened to me before, they released me with no charges…Even after acquiring a new phone, I still cannot log into some of my accounts because the London police still [holds] the phone that my two-factor authentication goes to.”
Kotaku reached out to Keffals for comment.
Keffals isn’t the only streamer who has had the cops called on them recently. GTA V streamer Adin Ross and erratic internet personality IShowSpeed were both swatted earlier this week, while a Hearthstone streamer had the cops invade her home during a livestream in February. Swatting is a dangerous “prank,” one that jeopardizes—and traumatizes—innocent lives and wastes resources.
“Instead of the police helping me, they terrorized me and my loved ones, traumatizing me and leaving both my fiancé and I on the verge of losing everything,” Keffals said. “They victimized me for being the victim of a hate crime…I do not know when I am going to be returning to broadcasting on Twitch. When I was woken up by police officers and saw the assault rifle pointed at me, I thought I was going to die. I feel traumatized. I just want everyone to know what happened and to ask for help so I can seek justice for what happened to me.”
Keffals is seeking financial assistance through a GoFundMe page, which will help with moving costs and legal aid. The goal, she said, is to recoup her losses and relocate to a safer place.