Grassroots action: Leadership changes and weeding out hate at Garden State Fur The Weekend
by Patch O'Furr
Garden State Fur The Weekend is an upcoming furry convention set for May 3-5, 2024 in New Brunswick, New Jersey. With their launch only months away, something unusual happened. GSFTW posted an official statement about opposing hate and Nazi-fur groups.
Its come to the attention of the GSFTW Board of Directors that there has been activity within our channels by those who do not represent us or our intentions as a convention or as a fandom.
We strive to keep our sights focused on a open, safe, and fun space for our weekend. With…
— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 12, 2024
It was followed by an announcement of the con chair stepping down and a new one stepping up. It blames medical issues of the ex-chair, Dashing Fox. Dogpatch Press wishes good health to him. The story could end there, but unofficially, the change was forced by staff resignations. You’re seeing the aftermath of revolt behind the scenes, then getting back on track for launch. Yes, they stood up with the power of collective will to change the leadership for the better.
It has come to the Board's attention that Dashing Foxie will be stepping down as our organization's Convention Chairperson. While this is a heavy moment for the con, we will be moving forward as the Board to review and appoint a new Con Chair as soon as possible… https://t.co/jbrAk3QH77
— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 13, 2024
This reporting is not to pile on, but for public interest. GSFTW’s interest is to make a nice event with good PR for its community. There’s also reading between the lines to learn about solving cross-community issues. We’ll cover the negative before looking forward to the positive.
Let’s not beat around the bush about why staff resigned to uproot the ex-chair: He actively associated with the Furry Raiders. They are a nazifur group who wither everything they touch. Their ties to alt-right hate groups and criminal schemes could fill a book.
The public has been aware that the Furry Raiders are toxic since it became national news years ago. What was the ex-chair thinking? Some may accuse corruption. The most charitable reading would be a critical security lapse by someone who didn’t screen associates or read the room.
Not only was there internal disruption; it made a PR problem about transparency of it all. History shows it’s possible to play musical chairs without changing the music. Nobody wants to get led down the garden path or see history repeat. So let’s ask questions, even if GSFTW is truly on the path to success.
Dogpatch Press did due diligence to seek comment from numerous people involved, including the official con channel, PR, the ex-chair, and new chair. Gracious responses came from the new chair and a staffer.
The chair switch came not long after a switch to a new hotel; questions to the con found a positive reason. How about finance decisions? More questions soon…
It’s fine to weed out nazifurs, (something to just do, not do for show) but the ex-chair’s Furry Raiders activity was open for almost 4 years. Wouldn’t there be much less concern if it was nipped in the bud at the start?
Back to the start: Sowing seeds of a new con
GSFTW’s 2020 organizing plans were delayed by Covid, until late 2022, when a Wikifur page was made by the con’s then-Head of PR. The page named official GSFTW channels and groups, 23 staffers, and two Guests of Honor (Leaf Dubois and Cooper Tom). Good things were growing for fans who are under-served with full events nearby.
I'm so excited to be the artist & GoH for Garden State Fur the Weekend, a New Jersey furry con coming in May 2024! I'm proud of this first piece of diner art and I'm working on more. Follow @GardenStateFur to stay tuned, and I hope to see you there! pic.twitter.com/Nk9wCNbue1
— Leaf 🍂 (@LeafDubois) November 25, 2022
Nearby events had a vacancy after the departure of Fur Affinity: United from New Jersey. There’s the single-day New Years Furry Ball, and Fur The ‘More is across state lines, but New Jersey had no full convention. A plan for one in Atlantic City never launched after suffering from hate activity in 2018… Which could have been a clue to avoid perennial troublemakers, but here we go again…
Snakes in the Grass
GSFTW’s 2024 statement against hate is vague about who was doing it in their channels. There wasn’t just one source, and it wasn’t just association without knowing who they were. Names can be named, and a chain of activity illustrates this.
There was prior knowledge by the ex-chair Dashing Fox. In a 2018 case of handling complaints, members of a local furmeet were unhappy with the presence of a nazifur zoophile named Crusader Cat. His history of being a chronic nuisance and banned from things was met with defensive denial by Dashing Fox.
In the denial, “the person who runs it is gay and in the minority” is propaganda from the Furry Raiders themselves. The term for what they do is Collaborator. Collaboration is the way systematic oppression uses cooperation from some members of targeted groups. The history of gay fascists shows it. Before WWII, there were western Jews who wanted to get rid of eastern Jews and supported Hitler. Such manipulation is behind Nazifur claims of “free expression” (for them…) Conning people to play along is how fascism works. It has no consistent position except grabbing power, and maneuvering like a chameleon for leverage. Targeted people will help them for selfish short-term benefit, and say you’ll benefit later if you help too (while they plot your destruction.)
The Furry Raiders were collaborators with alt-right figure Milo Yiannopolous in a scheme to “destroy” furry cons. Wait until you see their point person, and the tangle of ties around the Crusader Cat complaints.
"Billy the sex offender has never harassed or abused ME so I don't see what the problem is"
— Daz The Big Blue Dog 🔞 (@daztoons) October 8, 2018
Eventually Dashing Fox did come around and remove Crusader Cat. So far, so good. But then 2 years later… I did nazi that coming!
Fool me once, fool me twice
In 2020, a fuse was lit when Dashing Fox went on the Furry Raiders podcast to promote the plan for GSFTW. Giving air time to a nazifur group boosted their signal while making negative PR. Their channels have no audience or purpose except to promote their propaganda, so nothing could be gained there for anyone except them. Actively associating with nazifurs is known to cost the reputation of anyone who does, so Dashing Fox made a conscious choice, especially when…
This isn’t just bad opinions. Aeveirra was a point person for a scheme of alt-right violence aimed at a convention.
“You have to destroy the shit they love” – the Midwest Furfest 2019 scheme
Before the 2020 podcast, Aeveirra represented Furry Raiders in a video with Milo Yiannopolous, while his nazifur group invited Milo to preach about destroying furry cons. Meanwhile, Milo ran another secret group to plan a hostile MFF visit. That’s where Milo’s nazifur collaborators and alt-right followers would welcome the Proud Boys fascist gang. On their part, Proud Boys mutually threatened to bring violence to MFF. This was collaboration with terrorists, ultimately proven by their seditious conspiracy convictions for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol in 2021.
After the scheme fizzled, Dashing Fox actively associated with nazifurs known to be toxic to conventions. Ignoring this lets a pattern fester and spread. It makes even more reason to scrutinize the friendship and agenda of Aeveirra.
As an active Furry Raiders admin, Richie “Aeveirra” Felitti is the opposite of someone a well-run convention would ever want near executive power, finances, operations, or security. What would he do with influence?
Take time to browse Aeveirra’s history of befriending and defending fascists and criminally charged sex offenders, and retaliating on their behalf at people who observe their crimes. Imagine the following people gaining favor at the top… Besides Crusader Cat, people shielded by Aeveirra include:
- The Furry Raiders founder, Lee “Foxler” Miller (3 charges for child sex crimes.)
- Joshua “Kero the Wolf” Hoffman (necro-zoosadist ring member.)
- Carl “RC Fox” Kirkwood (sex offenses for trading CSAM). He admitted crime but suicided to escape impending conviction.
- Aeveirra’s shielding included retaliation at Dogpatch Press for linking mainstream news about RC Fox’s crime. It was a scapegoating attack to defend him, with a baseless truther-conspiracy theory that RC was framed.
- There was also a witness intimidation scheme on behalf of Foxler. When Dogpatch Press uncovered the scheme, it earned 8 years in jail for another admin of the Furry Raiders, Jacob Kovar, a convicted sex offender. Using a fresh fursona, Kovar convinced an upcoming convention to make him Head of Security before he was removed due to his arrest. Kovar is “Sneps” in the screenshot of Milo preaching to destroy conventions.
This police lineup of creeps is exactly what Aeveirra set out to favor with their own new convention.
The plot thickens: Aeveirra helped to fund the Free Fur All “Fashcon” with Nazifur money.
In Oklahoma, Free Fur All was founded by far-right founder Peacewolf out of spite at another convention, where Peacewolf was ousted as its Chair in 2020. (See a pattern?) Free Fur All was dedicated to welcoming nuisances banned elsewhere, earning the name “Fashcon”, but their own competing factions proved that Nazifurs wither everything they touch. Only a few dozen went in 2023 after fighting over Peacewolf’s sex scandal and the influence of Furry Raiders within.
A Free Fur All board meeting was leaked by an aggrieved insider, and it names Aeveirra as a heavy donor. Some sources claim that Aeveirra was spending an inheritance. Meanwhile in the Furry Raiders, founder Foxler claimed sponsorship, implying his money was laundered on behalf of people who don’t launder their fursuits. Whatever the source, nazifur money spreads nazifur influence.
- Foxler claim of sponsoring. — An unkempt Aeveirra in Nazifur armband. — Leak of Free Fur All board meeting with Aeveirra named funder at 47:50.
Evidence of the Furry Raiders splitting up competing nazifur factions came from sources involved in organizing for Free Fur All. The same sources went on to make similar complaints about losing favor with GSFTW.
- Free Fur All organizer discussion in 2022. — Same sources mad that “Furry Raiders speak for us” and lost them access to GSFTW.
Aeveirra’s agenda with Free Fur All was carried out in between the 2020 podcast with Dashing Fox about founding GSFTW, and GSFTW’s intended launch. It certainly was interesting timing.
Asking about influence on GSFTW
Dogpatch Press sent questions to insiders, GSFTW’s official info email, staffers, the ex-chair and the new chair. An entry level staffer “speaking solely from a personal perspective” responded to the below point.
This was a good-faith attempt to get a “No”. Good-faith effort to respond makes a difference — even if concern is barking up the wrong tree or topics can’t be discussed beyond a simple statement. For other questions, the staffer provided good PR. They asked to stay anonymous and wanted answers kept in context. For brevity, Dogpatch Press has a long chat on file and only suggests that conventions should take questions of influence seriously.
The new Chair wasn’t very familiar with the issue either, but stated “As far as I’m aware, there is no association with Aeveirra and the convention.”
Messages were traded with Dashing Fox, with days of attempts to have a fur-to-fur conversation about events here. A passed publication deadline with two extensions leave it for a future date. The other staffer who responded affirmed:
The entire convention leadership was in favor of the statement put up publicly, including Dashing Fox, and the decision to review who was present on staff and within our chats was decided by them as well.
Those present on staff have all outwardly expressed disdain for Raiders, and have zero interest in having them or anyone else in a similar vein (that being hate or discrimination) present at our events.
Behind the public statements
Credit is due to GSFTW for acting strongly to repel Nazifurs. More inside info is staying private due to feelings that the dispute was over. The concern here is that forcing change took several years, while the problem festered as a symptom of a larger one. Allowing a single Nazifur leads them to bring other ones.
Nazifur groups are a tiny fringe, so they are barely separated and all mingle, but the risk is grabbing larger influence, from con operations to group leadership.
Take for example another recently-removed member of the GSFTW Telegram group, Chris “Astral” Curtis. Astral went to Free Fur All with his partner Norby, and ran his own nazifur group full of Furry Raiders, insurrectionism, and violent racist hate speech. (Evidence channel).
Meanwhile, Astral’s partner Norby was admin of a furry group in New York, close to their friend Aeveirra in Long island. In mid 2023 a member attempted to report Aeveirra’s nazifur activity, only to have Norby lash back with an unhinged onslaught of vicious verbal abuse. The group admin retaliated on behalf of his fascist friend, subjecting people to rule by terror. It makes the point of this story.
- 2023 admin response by Norby towards report about Aeveirra. — Norby, Astral, and Aeveirra from Furry Raiders blog about Anthrocon 2019.
These were known nuisances as long ago as Anthrocon 2015. Dogpatch Press watched in person a few feet away while Norby and Astral brought a Confederate flag to the fursuit parade, embarassing Anthrocon and forcing them to make a conduct rule about it.
This pattern will repeat until nazifurs are shown the door. No place is safe with them in it. Staying passive just raises the cost of acting. This culminated in GSFTW staff resignations, then getting back on track and removing Astral and more nuisances who had favor with the ex-chair. The reasonable amount of nazifurs to tolerate is zero, and the sooner that’s established, the less damage they do.
People who took action are now wishing the best for GSFTW. Only fascists would win with a con pushing up daisies and a hotel full of tumbleweeds, so let’s not lose the forest for the trees. People with good intentions want a good con.
Looking at a rosy future
Shy Matsi is the new chair who represents optimism.
Garden State Fur The Weekend would officially like to welcome @shy_matsi as our Convention Chairperson!
Shy has an incredible history within the fandom and will be showing us the sights and sounds of a city he knows and loves!
Stay tuned for more information! https://t.co/iindMEg8KH
— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 14, 2024
From the other staffer who responded:
For confidence, I can say for certain the con is shaping up to be a highly successful first year overall, and having someone like Shy at the helm who not only has experience with the local area, but also shows a great deal of consideration for the community as a whole, that makes me personally feel a lot of confidence in GSFTW.
Shy Matsi was previously the Hotel Lead, and responded to questions about the hotel switch announced in November, explaining that the space would have been too small for the convention. The change won praise, and the new hotel is part of the same chain as the old one:
We lucked out really, the hotel event manager is the same one for the New Brunswick one and they’re considered sister hotels. It’s a better location. The only tricky part was moving the reservations. They never did that before, and I didn’t want a hardship on the people who reserved rooms, but they just completed it last week, so that went well.
A need for support
Furry fandom is a grassroots community, so remember that garden is both a noun and a verb. It’s not enough to dig out problems. You also have to fill in the hole. The staffer who responded said:
With staffing and volunteers, I think it’s clear to everyone that a lot of cons, not just Garden State Fur The Weekend, are always in need of helping paws and claws. And to quote another con chair: “Many paws make light work”.
We absolutely welcome folks looking to assist, so long as folks have the drive to help and are willing to work with the con and it’s attendees to ensure everyone’s safety and well being are first and foremost.
And though it should go without saying: anyone with a hateful, ableist, bigoted, and/or discriminatory mindset or behavior is not welcome at our event nor as our volunteers.
Volunteers help make any con help function. Without volunteers, we would be struggling so much. So want to be part of the first volunteer team for GSFTW? Step right up and shoot a email to email@example.com with your helping hand!
— Garden State Fur The Weekend (@gardenstatefur) January 10, 2024
Thanks again to all who engaged sensitive questions with professional care.
Feedback on the story from sources close to GSFTW questions how much the team really is rebuilt. They sent evidence that Aeveirra was considered for staff, an astonishing risk for trust and security, thankfully opposed by other staff exercising caution lacking from the top.
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