Magnus Diridian asked for an interview, so we talked about an attack on a convention.

by Patch O'Furr

An unresolved issue

You may know Magnus Diridian (AKA Rob Shokawsky) as “The Confederate fursuiter” who’s banned from furry conventions. What happens after being arrested for trespassing at Midwest FurFest 2017, and featuring in a news article about troll activity? How about a challenge to clear the air and explain things. That is, if a simple case of people being bothered by unwanted behavior needs any further explanation at all.

There don’t seem to be many people asking for it. But long story short, Magnus got in trouble and wanted to explain. I took the opportunity to talk, but not in the way he hoped. Honestly I’m not interested in rehashing what everyone already read about the 2017 arrest. He’ll have his day in court.  Something else was an open and bothersome issue, and I focused on that instead.  The previous article only hinted about it. Now I’m going to be really direct.

A crime suspect

Magnus was a suspect in the unsolved Midwest Furfest 2014 chemical attack, where chlorine gas hospitalized 19 people and made national news. In public discussion, it was called attempted murder. I spent most of a two hour live chat asking probing questions about it. (A screencast was recorded for proof, but only the text is here to protect names in it). The interview isn’t super conclusive, but it did confirm from the main source most everything I already knew. Some of it is sure to make your whiskers twitch. Some might raise new, unanswered questions.

It’s interesting that Magnus was convicted and jailed for a terroristic chemical attack on a bank in 2004. (There was a reader tip about it.) As requested, we didn’t discuss his past record, but it’s relevant to at least link it.

For someone with this history, wouldn’t it be sensible not to come back and act out in 2017? That was a choice leading to the story now.

Digging up background info

Before doing direct questions, I researched and chatted with sources close to the events at MFF in 2014. Three sources, including a con staffer, independently confirmed he was a suspect. An FBI agent from Chicago manages the case.

This came up again in 2017 because of a tangential issue on the FBI radar: the Altfurry/Furry Raiders groups, and FR founder Foxler. Magnus isn’t a member, but has known Foxler for a while.  According to ex-Raiders members, Foxler bragged that he knew who did the chemical attack before it happened, and told a fanciful tale of being blackmailed into silence by “anti furry terrorists”. I took that with a huge amount of skepticism and said nothing, because Raiders troll their own members (some of them left the group when I showed them proof). But it got out from ex-Raiders, and the FBI went to Foxler’s house for a knock and talk. Furry Raiders activity is under surveillance. Foxler tweeted the FBI agent’s business card with a fake excuse about the reason.

Meanwhile, I found and chatted with Magnus’s roommates from the MFF hotel in 2014. They had never been interviewed about the night of the attack and hadn’t talked to him since 2014. I learned that shortly before the incident, Magnus ran out into a busy road while fursuiting. A staffer yelled at him and his spotter and almost took their badges. Magnus was mad at staff for ruining the fun. I asked if they had ever suspected Magnus of involvement in the attack (perhaps for revenge?), and it was a thought at some point but no more than briefly, and there was no chlorine in the room anywhere. However Magnus drove from Wisconsin to Chicago, so there must have been a vehicle besides what was in the hotel room.

Livejournal posts by Magnus from 2014

First post about the attack at MFF. (They’ll think about murder?)

More sources

When the 2017 MFF arrest happened, Magnus’ boyfriend contacted me to defend him. They immediately anticipated that I might post about him because of the previous Dogpatch Press article about his Confederate fursuit (“Arkansas”), which involved a ban from Anthrocon. I won’t share that chat to keep relationship stuff private, but on Facebook, they tried downplaying the arrest like it didn’t happen. That became impossible after I posted about it.

Magnus followed up with a GoFundMe for his legal defense that was deleted, and the Facebook response that challenged me to interview him. So I did. It’s important to emphasize that I think what turned up in the research is circumstantial at worst, and doesn’t remove presumed innocence.

 

The interview

[Names redacted only, army discharge info came from a source.]

Magnus 

Heyos, are you Dogpatch?

Patch

Hi yes, this is my account
Left you a note
Interested in an interview?

Magnus

I’d like that. I thought maybe we could do it as far as you sending me a list of questions, and I answer them. I wanted to do a video like that, actually.

Patch

We could just chat right now if it’s ok!

Magnus

well, this is all I have at the moment, just this IM
I think you guys have the wrong impression of me, so I’d like to clear the air

Patch

That’s perfectly fine, I like how IM is a good way to think about things, it’s a little nicer than video
I do have some questions, mind if I go ahead?

Magnus

You didn’t want to do a whole interview format?
Believe me, I know that pretty much everything I say has a fine chance of getting twisted around

Patch

This is just great – I usually do it this way, it does go into a written article – I’m not a video maker
And don’t worry, I would not be taking anything out of context or altering any words – all 100% verbatim

Magnus

mmm, for the readers to disseminate, but I digress

Patch

I can actually provide a live screencast of the chat showing no editing

Magnus

That’d work for the viewers, but this is media, so I’m buying no insurance on the outcome.
But, yes, I get that there are things that need to be said

Patch

Well, that is an interview right… no editing, just what you choose to say. I do have questions if you feel like going ahead

Magnus 

Do it.

Patch

OK, your facebook post mentioned you don’t want to be asked about a crime record that happened in 1991-2004, I think those were the dates. Can I ask, have you been clean of any crime since then?

Magnus

There was that one incident in 2015, but the charges were dropped. The person known as [Redacted name J.], who has left a comment on that one story you posted, was the plaintiff. His real name is [Redacted name R.], but he goes by Oru in the fandom.
Also, his Boyfriend, Chanur, real name [Redacted name C.], is on the board of directors of Anthrocon.
But as to the question, yes, I have been free of all crimes since then.

Patch

Huh, sounds like some interesting drama… we don’t have to get into it at all though.
Can you talk about what you did in the army, and what was the dishonorable discharge about?

Magnus

There was no dishonorable discharge.
I went in, did my time, and got out.

Patch

OK, thanks for saying. Moving on… You have been employed at the same job for 5 years, is that true?

Magnus

Let’s just say I’m living a stable life outside of of the fandom.

Patch

Good, everyone likes one of those! [Redacted name M.M.] your boyfriend did chat me and volunteer some stuff in your defense… I actually did try to keep his side in some stuff that was written before… in case you’re curious
Anyways, can I ask, ever get in trouble at the current job for anything?

Magnus

Just curious, who is everyone?

Patch

Just speaking for myself actually… a very general comment. Stable life is good
I’m chatting at home hanging out with a beer, caught me at a good time.

Magnus

but no, never had any troubles at the job.

Patch

What was your experience like when you went to Midwest Furfest in 2014?

Magnus

I enjoyed it until that incident.

Patch

Can you explain more?

Magnus

When I was in Macleod’s room and the sirens went off
[Redacted name M.]

Patch

Scary time… Did you talk about it after you went, and do you remember what you said?

Magnus

We left the room and went our separate ways, much as I can remember about that night 3.5 years ago.

Patch

Ever talk to anyone else about it?

Magnus

I’ve had the opportunity to talk to people about it at least four time over the last 3.5 years.

Patch

I’ll bet everyone there talked a lot, it was dramatic. Was this a certain four times, like with anyone in particular?

Magnus

Hmm.
What I’d like to know is that why I was ever a suspect in that incident in the first place.

Patch

I think a lot of people were

Magnus

But why am I the biggest?

Patch

Here’s a screenshot of something you posted to Livejournal – you said furries would be remembered for something besides sex. Can you explain?
It seems like kind of an interesting take to focus on what the media says.

It was believed that it was used in the construction of the gas bomb, and Frost Cat admitted to it being his.

Patch

Did the FBI ask about your job as a lifeguard at the waterpark?

Magnus

They asked me if I had any chemicals in the apartment.

Patch

Did the FBI ever ask you about taking chlorine from work?

Magnus

I told them that I’ve been working there so long, it has probably bonded to my DNA
This is a very strange interview.

Patch

Well, I guess there’s different ways of getting DNA mutated into a furry, ha

Magnus

It reminds me of a police interrogation.

Patch

Where were you between 11 and 12:30AM on Sunday, December 7, 2014 at Midwest Furfest?

Magnus

Well, I was on one of the higher floors, eating Chinese food with Syber fox. then I came back to the room and talked to macleod wolf, and then the sirens went off.

Patch

Do you think they interviewed people you were with, like Syber?

Magnus

probably. it’s been three/four years

Patch

Thanks… I’m getting down to a last few questions, maybe 6 or 7
Did you get in trouble for anything earlier during the con?

Magnus

at mff 2015? I recall doing a photoshoot outside near the Christmas lights
the variety show went off without a hitch
but other than that the con was quite good.

Patch

How long have you known Foxler?

Magnus

I knew him under a different name.

Patch

His real life name, or a screen name?
Still there? We could do some casual chat in a little bit and clear the air more… just had a few more questions. You did say ask whatever on Facebook

Magnus

ok back now

Patch

Cool… take your time

Magnus

I thought you were going to ask me about Lemonade Coyote, or Arkansas, or that suit I wore at MFF 2017

Patch

We can chat casually about all that, and even give you the mike pretty much. I do have just a few more questions, if we can pick up from the one about Foxler

Magnus

I’m not part of the furry raiders. I’m not even sure what their agenda is.

Patch

I was curious about time period… did you know Foxler in 2014?

Magnus

his name was known to me a different one
and we just had casual conversations

Patch

Did Foxler tell you that the FBI knocked on his door, and why?

Magnus

The FBI knocked on many people’s doors after mff 2014
skrat was one of them.
I mean, who really knows?

Patch

Did you ever tell Foxler that you were behind the chlorine attack at MFF?

Magnus

No, never told him that.

Patch

Do you think they’ll ever figure out who did it?

Magnus

I have no idea. Was it a prank? I can’t even say.

Patch

Do you remember MacWolf’s friend having a diabetic emergency during the incident?
Don’t know if you were there

Magnus

It was just me and him in the room at the time.

When the sirens started, we left the room, and I went out to find friends.

Patch

I was curious if you ever regretted anything about that whole experience?

Magnus

I regret not having enough energy to fursuit more, I regret the lost opportunities that were lost that night because of that.

Patch

After MFF 2017, in December, did you try to downplay your arrest or act like it might not have happened?

Magnus

Well, this situation is still ongoing…you understand.

Patch

Yeah it is reasonable not to say much
Do you ever tell anyone the police are crooks or liars?

Magnus

I believe they do what they have to do.

Patch

Any idea why [Redacted name M.M.- boyfriend] was saying that to me in chat?

Magnus

You’d have to ask him.

Patch

OK, sure. Lastly, feel like just saying what you think about all this?

Magnus

You never did ask me about the other drama. I really wish the interview had revolved more around that, instead of this. But, I understand what you’re trying to get at. And it wasn’t me.

Patch

Do you think it’s unfair to be a suspect?

Magnus

I think one questioning should be enough.
It’s now been five, counting you.

Patch

That’s quite a lot… I dunno, it seems like clearing things should be easy if there’s nothing to it. But we can drop that. Did you want to put anything out there about all the other drama?

Magnus

I’d prefer the interview format, if that’s ok.

Patch

OK. Honestly, I think the other stuff is … kind of drama-y and not as serious an issue… the only thing about it is, it seems to just keep happening. Do you think that’s going to change?

Magnus

After what happened at mff 2017, it made me realize
cons have gotten shut down because of this, I didn’t read about it till later
MFF is too serious of a con to do much at any more.

Patch

Is it less fun with the history of things happening there? Planning to make a change and go to different places?

Magnus

I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who got heat at mff 2017
One costumer had a WW1 outfit that they stopped him for wearing a gas mask, and there was another who was stopped at registration for dressing as a north korea military officer

Patch

Was it unexpected to get heat though?

Magnus

As long as I stayed in the non convention space, I believed there was nothing they could do.
I never once tried to enter convention space

Patch

Isn’t it kind of disrespectful to their wishes though, to go there at all, if it involves going right up to some line that’s supposed to be there?
Was there some reason that had to be done?

Magnus

I have always preferred to talk to people one on one
And I didn’t get that when they asked me about Arkansas at MFF 2015

Patch

It seems like they have to have some rules, and wishes that involve just expecting people to respect them without having to talk…

Magnus

That’s what this is all about
MFF 2015
The confederate flag fursuit

Patch

It’s their con… lot of people work hard to put it on… if they have some rules and wishes, why not just let them have those?
Isn’t it kind of obvious people aren’t happy about having lines pushed?
Is there something about it that’s not easy to understand?
Not trying to argue or anything, just honestly curious.

Magnus

It’s given me a lot to think about, this is for certain.

Patch

I have to say, I love cons. It’s a great way to meet people, make friends and just have a nice time with them. I’m wondering why push lines, or have people get mad… maybe it’s hard to get why they do? But anyways, if you think about changes, what about something like inviting people to you – like throwing an event just because it’s nice? Think that would be a good change? Like even, volunteering for another con.

Magnus

I used to do that years ago

Patch

On a whole other topic, Fur Con just happened… tell you a small story. I chatted [Redacted name R.H.] right before the con. I know he is a disabled guy who has a really hard time making friends, and his mom has to work hard to take care of him, and she takes him places. I tried asking him more than a few times if I could talk to his mom – was going to invite him and her to hang out or something and make it a better experience in case they were going to be by themselves or lonely. But he must have been too suspicious after having everyone hate him so he wouldn’t put me in touch. It’s really tough to get people out of having problems sometimes.

Magnus

He talks to me on a regular basis.

Patch

So anyways, I threw a bunch of tough questions at you. Thanks for taking them. It was a little frustrating that I’m not sure the answers were totally clear, but that’s stuff from the past and the future has all kinds of possibilities.

I think this is enough chatting for now, have to go to bed soon. No plans for what to do with the interview but it might go out with some light context but not too heavy writing, can just let it speak for itself.

Magnus

I’m not worried about the future, pretty much. I’m just wishing we had kept to more relevant topics.

Patch

There might be future issues if the Lemonade or Arkansas suits come out, other than that, you have some talent making suits… lots of possibilities for stuff that will get taken more positively.

Magnus

We’ll see. You have a good night.

Patch

You too

(End)

 

(EDIT) TL;DR – Why would Magnus be suspected in the 2014 attack at MFF, raided by the FBI and questioned 4 times?

  • Convicted of a previous chemical attack
  • History of trolling and acting vengeful
  • Had a dispute with MFF staff
  • Was at the location on upper floors of the hotel at the time of the incident
  • Wrote strange journals focusing on the attention, and barely mentioned people getting hurt
  • Drove to the con & had access to large amounts of chlorine
  • Had the same tape at his apartment
  • His acquaintance Foxler implicated him
  • Less than forthcoming about some of the questions; evasive about being arrested in 2017.

New questions: At the time of the attack, what was the path back to his room after hanging out with Syber on the upper floors of the hotel? Why refuse to say how long he knew Foxler or his other screen name? Why the extra long pause when I asked?

Troublingly, I think none of this clears Magnus, but crucially, it’s so circumstantial that I can’t assume guilt. That leaves it open ended. He was already questioned 4 times by the authorities, and if they haven’t proceeded, there can’t be a case worthy for trial. Benefit of the doubt for something so serious shouldn’t be taken away. That’s what I can say about the 2014 incident so far.

The 2017 arrest, and the connection to Altfurry

Now let’s address his wish to explain the arrest at Midwest Furfest in 2017. It seems like that’s why he asked for an interview (but he did say to ask ANY questions.) The story is pretty clear, isn’t it, when someone is told not to come to a convention in the first place and they come anyways?

Well, that’s not how Magnus sees it. Cons were interfering with the freedom of his confederate flag fursuiting, so they needed to get confronted. He said in the interview: “That’s what this is all about”. That leads to explanations he has posted: his defense is “where is con space?”  Pushing right up to the supposed line, but not into it – (if being in the hotel and surrounded by con-goers isn’t “con space”) – in his mind, that’s a rightful grievance about what someone is free to do.

In this interpretation, “technically legal” makes a blanket license for any activity you can possibly do. But what about respecting wishes of the event organizers, or the intentions of a direct message not to come?  Those are pushed aside by lawyering about the legal technicalities of social protocol.  Of course there’s a huge gap between what’s legal, and what’s nice, good, or acceptable. It’s legal to refuse to take showers and smell like a truck stop toilet on a hot day… but it’s not nice. If you do that, you can’t call people too easily offended about the stench. It might get you hosed. It sure won’t win welcome (unless they’re into that).

This describes every controversy and trolling incident ever involving the Furry Raiders and Altfurry groups. The only defenders for Magnus I’ve seen (besides his boyfriend) happen to be Altfurry, the same people responsible for attacking cons like Califur and lying about it.

Added 2/1/18: leaked from the altfurry “Mead Hall” private staff chat, posted by “Len”/Casey Hoerth AKA @altfurrydiscord

It all makes a shining example of the contortionist logic behind their claims to represent free speech in any and every form. If it’s legal, they think it’s needed, all nuances thrown in the trash; racist hate speech is nice and good for these purposes (“this is why we need altfurry!”) Remember, these aren’t lawyers in courts – they’re pushing an agenda in your face socially. For them, it’s entirely congruent that their hero for freedom is simultaneously an FBI suspect in attempted mass murder.

The Dylan Maxwell of Furry Fandom?

One of the best TV shows I’ve seen is American Vandal on Netflix. It’s a mockumentary about a video producing geek who does a true crime investigation at his high school. The best thing about this show is how perfect the parody is, with style like Making a Murderer. It looks at a fellow student, Dylan Maxwell, who is expelled for doing graffiti dicks on cars. He says he didn’t do it. Each new clue makes him look like he’s lying, then telling the truth, then lying again. He’s a fuckup and a stoner, he’s known for playing pranks, and his defense is absurdly unsympathetic… but even if he lied about other things, could he be telling the truth about his innocence? Should he be punished just for being a bad student? Maybe Magnus is Dylan. I won’t spoil the scene where Dylan confronts a smarmy little tattletale for Ultimate Revenge of the most ridiculous kind. Just watch it for some of the best comedy I’ve ever seen.

Personally, I wouldn’t want to deserve a flaming bag of poo on my doorstep for pursuing the interview questions too far. No matter what happened in the past, let me repeat that what’s written here leaves presumed innocence about what happened in 2014.

UPDATE – click through for thread.

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