Two months after NC State University announced an internal investigation was unable to substantiate allegations of "malicious online activities" against an IT manager, a small group of students gathered on Friday to send a message that they won't let the matter go.
Chadwick Seagraves, a desktop manager in the Office of Information Technology, was accused of compiling personal information on thousands of left-wing activists in North Carolina and Oregon from social media, which was disseminated online to violent extremists, according to a lawsuit filed by one of the victims of the dox. The alleged misconduct originally surfaced in an investigation published on Twitter by a group called Anonymous Comrades Collective. The group said the metadata from the information dump pointed back to Seagraves. When some of the names appeared on the /pol/ — Politically Incorrect channel on 4chan, anonymous users quickly responded with comments like, "Good. Give us the list. We will assemble a squad and start eliminating antifa one by one."
Seagraves was also accused of digitally harassing an NC State student known as Belvy, based on his Twitter username (@belvy_), in late 2019. Past social media posts also indicate Seagraves was involved with the Proud Boys, although he has said he is not currently a member of the nationalist street gang that played an integral role in the attempted coup on Jan. 6.
Following what the university called "rigorous review," NC State University announced on Jan. 11 that the internal investigation "did not substantiate any significant allegations."
The university hasn't said whether investigators attempted to ascertain whether Seagraves was responsible for supplying the personal information for the mass dox or merely looked into whether he was responsible for posting offensive content through a Twitter profile linked to him. But the investigation did conclude that the online activity wasn't conducted on university time or on work computers.
"In terms of the internal investigation," Chancellor Randy Woodson told faculty members during a Jan. 26 meeting, "it was made clear that while some of the online behavior attributed to this individual, some of which he denies, but regardless it's done on his own time and not, unfortunately, at least for those of you that believe this to be offensive — and that's true of many people — it's not subject to the State Personnel Act and doesn't allow for dismissal because no laws or policies were broken."
As the university was wrapping up its investigation, a new allegation arose based on images circulated on Twitter of a Capitol rioter who resembled Seagraves. Woodson said the FBI confirmed that the individual in the photos from the Capitol was not Seagraves, and local law enforcement verified that he was not in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6.
Woodson characterized the allegation of digital harassment of a student as "serious" and something university officials were "very concerned about."
"We have through every means possible through Twitter — this person is not identified by name — reached out to the writer of the Twitter account, asking them to cooperate with the university, so we could determine whether the person was a student," Woodson said. "We have no evidence that the person who wrote this is a student at NC State, and they've not come forward and cooperated with the university in the investigation. So, we weren't able to substantiate that allegation."
On Friday evening, dressed in a NC State sweatshirt bearing the university's wolf mascot, Belvy disputed Woodson's claim as he addressed about 35 people from a picnic shelter at a rally organized by Smash Racism Raleigh in a neighborhood park three blocks from campus.
"The university is coming up on four months of failing to do anything about this," "Belvy" said. "Their bullsh*t excuse is that I didn't do enough, that they weren't able to confirm my identity. That their investigation didn't find any wrongdoing. But we were never informed about an investigation. They never disclosed anything about it. To this day, their reasoning remains closed to the public."
As evidence that he is indeed a student, Belvy provided a copy of his NC State transcript to Raw Story. The transcript was sent from an NC State email account of the same name. Belvy also provided Raw Story with screenshots of direct messages from a Twitter account with the handle "Elias McMahone; A Heathen" and username @roostersghost.
In November 2019, after Belvy was involved in a protest against a visit to campus by the conservative group Turning Point USA, he discovered that the owner of the @roostersghost Twitter account posted screenshots from his account, writing, "This young man supports #jihadists & affiliates with #Antifa. He is a student at #NCState. Here you will see him posting an intimidating message insinuating violence to a conservative student while also claiming to be a victim."
"For the longest time I couldn't do anything about it; there was no face to @roostersghost," Belvy told supporters on Friday. "No one I could pin it on, no one I could have reported it to. And for the longest time — a whole fucking year in fact — I had to fear for my life. I had to watch what I posted. I had to remove photos of people he could target off my socials. I became so anxious about it all that I had to scrub myself offline and shut down a whole part of myself just to know I might be safe."
After discovering he was the target of the unfavorable Twitter post in late 2019, Belvy decided to contact the author.
The owner of the @roostersghost account responded with what appeared to be a veiled threat: "Good because the pic you posted from the window in East Village above the roundabout gave away a location. That's why I'm trying to help you see that getting involved in direct action isn't good for a smart guy like you. Just be careful what online stuff you get into when everyone is all excited about a protest wearing all black. It's a serious thing."
In further correspondence, the owner of the @roostersghost account provided biographical details describing a rightward ideological shift to Belvy that are strikingly similar to a statement Seagraves provided to the Raleigh News & Observer after allegations of online misconduct came to light.
"I helped get Obama elected," @roostersghost wrote to Belvy. "Worked hard for him. I campaigned for John Kerry before that. I detested Bush Jr. Still do. I went into college knowing nothing of politics and left the same. I thought I knew what I believed and why. I eventually realized that I didn't actually understand any of the reasons or arguments behind what I was repeating. Then I realized my core values were primarily conservative or libertarian. It's natural to have a big heart when you're young. I know that's what drives so many of y'all. The Left took a huge radical turn that didn't jive with my core values as a Constitutionalist."
A year later, Seagraves identified himself as a "Constitutionalist" in a statement to the News & Observer.
Echoing the statement made by the owner of the @roostersghost Twitter account, Seagraves went on to say: "In 2017 I was still a registered Democrat and had been active in politics for the Democratic Party since 2001. In 2008 I worked at an inner city polling location in Indianapolis as a precinct 'judge' and was part of the ground campaign for then candidate Obama."
A message left at Seagraves' work voicemail and email to his work account on Friday went unreturned.
But in a statement to the News & Observer last November, Seagraves complained: "I have been subjected to an organized campaign of slander composed of outright lies, half truths, and out of context claims initiated by anonymous anarchists and 'antifascists' that is designed to punish me and suppress my right to political expression using intimidation and the Heckler's veto with the intent to destroy my career and reputation."
A university spokesperson indicated NC State has nothing more to say beyond its Jan. 11 statement clearing Seagraves of wrongdoing.
"We've issued a final statement, and there's nothing else we can say on the matter," Mick Kulikowski told Raw Story on Friday. "We can't talk about the investigation because it's a personnel matter."
After listening to speeches at Isabella Cannon Park, protesters, including two dressed in the black bloc attire associated with "antifa," set out for campus, chanting, "2-4-6-8, fire Chadwick, stop the hate," and, "Fuck you, alt-right, fire him tonight."
When they arrived at the plaza outside DH Hill Jr. Library, the marchers broke out multi-colored chalk and began writing anti-Proud Boy messages as protest music like "Talkin' Bout a Revolution" by Tracy Chapman played from a speaker.
"The university doesn't want to face the fact that its own staff are threats," Belvy said. "They don't care about minorities. NC State has made it clear they don't want to talk about this anymore."
A representative of the Wake County Black Student Coalition who identified themself only as Sunny recalled during a speech at the park how antifascists had come out to oppose some 50 Proud Boys who marched around the Governor's Mansion on Nov. 28, part of string of right-wing rallies that culminated in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
"We chose to stand with our boots, with our Doc Martens on the ground, with our high heels on the ground, with our faces right then and there, without even socially distancing, with these Proud Boys, these fascists right over here in front of us," Sunny said. "We chose to stand back against them. Why? Because we — I am Black, y'all are queer, ya'll are Black, y'all are Jewish. We are all the enemies of these fascists. Ever since like before World War II, they have been coming for people like us."
Seagraves said in his statement to the News & Observer that he was "not a member of the Proud Boys." He added, "To paint me as a racist and fascist is heinous slander."
Seagraves' statement sidesteps the matter of whether he has previously been involved with the Proud Boys. Activity on the @roostersghost Twitter account indicates he has. At one point, the handle for the @roostersghost account was changed from "Elias McMahone; A Heathen" to "Elias McMahone is POYB," which includes the acronym for the Proud Boy slogan "Proud of your boy." Another post under the "Elias McMahone; A Heathen" handle appears to describe the organization: "We are a men's drinking club that is extraordinarily proud of Western Civilization & believe that it's the best." And a man wearing a T-shirt depicting the Proud Boys' distinctive rooster symbol shown in a photo from an April 2018 Second Amendment rally in Raleigh bears a striking resemblance to Seagraves' professional photograph.[JG1]
In responding to faculty concerns about the outcome of the Seagraves' investigation, university leaders sought to reassure them that NC State remains committed to diversity and inclusion.
The most important message, Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Allison Newhart said, is that "the university is committed to its values, which include values of diversity and inclusion. And that's something we feel very strongly about, the administration continues to stand up for, continues to advocate for. We also have to respect the First Amendment, and freedom of speech and freedom of expression.
"But the good thing about that is we as a university can also take that opportunity to advance our values," she continued, "to get out there and make them known, and just stand up for them."
Seagraves submitted a statement to the student newspaper Technician that suggests he's on board with the administration position.
"We all have our own stories, experiences, beliefs, personalities, culture, heritage, etc. that makes us unique," he wrote. "That uniqueness is to be cherished and protected. We are strong together because of our differences and diversity, not in spite of them. One might even say 'Wolfpack strong.'"