Wellington councillor Rebecca Matthews goes to police over online death threat

Wellington City councillor Rebecca Matthews has filed a complaint with police after she received a death threat online.

“It was just very creepy, I’m used to getting tough comments but threats of violence, that’s another level. It’s scary”, Matthews told the Herald.

The comment was made via Twitter after Matthews retweeted a post by the New Zealand Police.

She criticised Police by saying: “You know what’s great? Getting a warrant before a search.”

In reply, a member of the public allegedly threatened to shoot Matthews and referred to her in a derogatory way.

Matthews has since filed a complaint with Police and Twitter, and it appears the social media giant has removed the comment for violating its rules.

“We want to be accountable and available to the public, but nobody deserves to be threatened,” Matthews said.

The councillor has also contacted who she believes to be the person’s employer and has informed a senior manager at Wellington City Council.

Matthews said she thought the level of vitriol could be more extreme towards female politicians.

Earlier this year Porirua mayor Anita Baker pulled back from social media following what she described as online sexist abuse.

She decided to no longer engage with constituents on Facebook saying her male colleagues did not receive the same messaging.

“After a year I’m sick of the abuse that I’m getting and I think being a female mayor and having a female CEO has a lot to do with it.

“I actually am a human being and I have feelings, so I’ve decided I’m not going to take it anymore.”

She said she would continue to use her mayoral Facebook page where she controlled the content.

In another incident this year, a Kāpiti Coast District Councillor was left reeling after offensive sexual remarks about her were posted on a board member’s blog.

One piece referred to Jocelyn Prvanov and four other female councillors as “political concubines” of mayor K Gurunathan.

Waikanae Community Board member Geoffrey Churchman, the editor of the site, has since stepped down.

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