Satanic Panic in Sacramento targets furries — media reports without consulting any furries

by Patch O'Furr

Zero (white) and partner Siro_Kami (blue)

A misunderstood person moves to a new place, and faces more misunderstanding, but uses creativity to stand proud and reach people who do understand.

It’s a tale told a million times, known by a million furries worldwide (and subcultures of every stripe.) It’s the tale of Frankenstein’s rejected creature, who finds kindness from a blind person, but has to run from the prejudice and torches of angry villagers.

It’s a tale that wasn’t told by a local CBS channel who only reported the villager’s side, “Furries” with satanic symbols spotted near Sacramento County elementary school, parents say. They didn’t talk to any furries they reported about, or mention resources about them for the media like Furscience, or the history of Satanic Panic spreading prejudice and harming schools and communities like theirs.

Antelope, CA is 15 miles from Sacramento. Attitudes about order there may be influenced by history: In 1973 the town was blown away when trains full of bombs for Viet Nam exploded. It was rebuilt as a planned community where “most homes are new and the area is well planned out”. It’s rated safer than average for crime among 45,000 residents, and is unincorporated with policing by the County Sheriff, and nearby town departments under contract for schools and parks.

Natural Elements

Zero The HellHound is an 18-year old trans furry facing the villagers’ wrath. He recently moved to Antelope, where he doesn’t have a job or car, but you have to drive to get anywhere. On maps, the neighborhood doesn’t have a restaurant for hanging out within a 2-3 mile walk, and he also might have to fear going alone. So for about 2 weeks, Zero has been visiting Firestone Park (a name almost made for this story.) It’s a public park in sight of the family home that recently took him in. At the park he’s been chilling in nature, and practicing fursuit dancing for a Tiktok audience of over 14K followers. Instead of hiding inside with depression, it helps him to be confident to dance where anyone can see.

Zero won the dance competition at Golden State Fur Con, but at Firestone Park, he got eggs thrown at him by middle school kids who came to hassle him. Angry adults think he’s there to be Satanic, or target little kids next door at the Olive Grove Elementary school, but he says those kids only show positive notice. He also made two new friends who came up and complimented his fursuit. His reaction was “Wow, you know what a fursuit is?”

Many people confront him about the fursuit. Zero is a fursuit maker who plays a Skulldog, like a spooky creature from Ghostbusters or shows like Hazbin Hotel. It represents the story of a character who was originally a human with one abusive parent, which led to suicide, earning God’s judgement of going to hell. There he transforms and gets symbols burned on him, but has his own place to live. Many teens find catharsis in stories about overcoming trauma and asserting “it’s ok to be weird”. Some symbols on his character are trans scars and LGBT Pride colors (which have been targets of pedophilia accusation at the park). There’s also pentagrams, but Zero claims he’s not religious and they aren’t Satanic (pointing down), they are the kind that points up to represent natural elements.

Finger Guns

The story doesn’t communicate to the lady who confronts him one day to say, “do you think it’s OK to be in costume at this park?” She claims it’s scaring kids. As far as Zero knows, no kids have been scared. Only parents… although groups of many kids harass this 18-year old even when he’s not in fursuit. One adult was threatening almost to the point of punching him. But Zero isn’t leaving Firestone Park just because they’re mad. It’s public property and he has a right to be there. He also denies that he times visits for when kids get out of school, and says the park generally isn’t busy. Should he only go when nobody can see him or there’s no light for videos?

In one of Zero’s Tiktok videos, he and his friend sit on a park bench while people crowd up to take video and complain that kids can’t play there. “We’re minding our own business”, they tell an adult who isn’t holding back kids from bouncing a basketball at them and lining up aggressively like stereotypical jock bullies in a movie. Another adult demands to get Zero’s face in their video, and threatens to call police on him for legally wearing a mask.

Lacking real crime to complain about, they reach to accuse his Tiktok videos of being a school shooting threat. Zero exasperatedly explains that they went digging for a “very very old” (2022) video made in his house with a finger-guns meme that went around, or a “pope dance” meme with pointing. This came out in the CBS article, with a parent complaining about the school ignoring his complaints about someone legally using a park off school property.

Under this pressure, Zero tried going to the principal of Olive Grove Elementary to talk, and she said she just wants to keep kids safe. After the CBS story, Dogpatch Press called the school and emailed the principal to request contact with security or adults involved for comment, but there was no reply.

Collateral Damage

Then there was the incident with Mudpuppy. Zero wants support from friends, and gets a few to come sometimes for making videos. Mudpuppy is a 23-year old furry from Woodland, CA with autism and ADHD, and he was the only one who came on May 2. He was unfamiliar with the area: “I was actually attending an audio/visual workshop in Sacramento before going to the park. It was my first time meeting Zero.” He was wearing a tail but no mask.

With instructions to find a basketball court, Mudpuppy accidentally wandered towards the wrong one on school grounds next to the park. He didn’t realize it until seeing kids playing. Before being able to leave, angry parents got in the way, including one from the CBS article, Kris Williams.

“Kris and one other guy confronted and interrogated me about why I was there. They told me I wasn’t going anywhere and proceeded to call the police. One of them aggressively pulled my camera bag off me. When they asked me who I was meeting, I pulled out my phone so I could tell them. But one of them ripped it out of my hand. They treated me like I was an actual school shooter.”

Mudpuppy found the treatment and reporting hard to understand. “The whole situation was so terrifying that my mind blocked out what they said… I was told CBS was at the school about 20 minutes before I came.” The story was decided before Mudpuppy even became part of it.

Local news features Kris Williams complaining that the school is ignoring complaints that aren’t about school property.

Dancing Around the Issue

It’s easy to prejudge and terrify a lost and needful person who wanders in with a tail making them a target, even when schools are supposed to specially care about autism and bullying. Mudpuppy had to go through all this just to find Zero to give the support that furries do for each other.

That wasn’t all. After he found Zero and started taking pictures, Mudpuppy echoes that they became targets of egg throwing, neighbors yelling that they weren’t welcome and labeling them “pedophile”, and threats of more assault.

Ironically, angry parents were the ones calling police and guns to these scenes with hostility, making a threat of innocent people getting shot. Autism and communication complication has led to wrongful police use of force incidents.

As one set of adults who didn’t fail in this story, police protected the targets. At one point an officer went as far as staying with Zero for an hour at Firestone Park. One officer advised Zero to bring a lot of Sacramento furries there for a big event with security provided by police. It would be a way to assert right to use public space, and show that furries aren’t afraid and aren’t a threat.

Together or alone, Zero keeps doing what he loves. Despite accusations of preying on kids by making videos (of himself), his Tiktok followers are rising a lot. He says he isn’t trying to influence people with pentagrams, but with dancing. For example, one day a group of kids wanted to mock him, but he reacted with dance moves, and one of them actually started defending him. Why don’t mad parents learn from kids like that?

Followup notes

A post about this on r/Sacramento has surprisingly understanding comments with some local insight.

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