From threat to blame: The closure of Rocky Mountain Fur Con

DISCLAIMER: The content from paragraph two to four and in the subsequent photograph may be uncomfortable for some readers. Discretion is advised.

US-based convention Rocky Mountain Fur Con (RMFC) should have been held August 11-13, 2017, themed “Carnival Nocturne”. But, it was cancelled 4 months early on 10 April. This is due to a controversy that claimed the furcon was linked with far-right groups.

  • Gun threat shoots up alerts

  • Ban and threat

  • More than just a threat?

  • The aftermath

Gun threat shoots up alerts

On Jan 27, 2017, Twitter user @artdecade released a tweet calling the Furry Raiders “a bunch of motherf***ers.” Deo, the Tasmanian Devil then responded with, “Can’t wait to punch these Nazis.”

According to Deo, this comment that she made was intended to be a joke referencing a meme of Richard Spencer. He is an activist involved in the alternative-right (also known as alt-right) movement.

This led to another user @Oliviameles replying with: “Watching you get shot by someone defending themselves from unprovoked assault will be far more entertaining.” – a reply Deo perceived to be a gun threat.

The tweet thread that served as the basis of the RMFC controversy. Dogpatch Press

Deo then raised her concerns about the tweet to RMFC. It then reached the furcon’s host venue and local Denver police.

The police and hotel concluded this to be a threat. RMFC was then asked by the hotel to hire a security force manned by off-duty police officers. It will cost third of the furcon’s operating budget.

Ban and threat

On March 29, 2017, Deo received a cease-and-desist (C&D) letter from Kahuki Lairu (Kandal Ray Emery). The Daily Beast reported he beared the title ‘Chief Executive Contract Law Officer’ in the letter. Kahuki is the founder of RMFC’s parent company Mid-American Anthropomorphic and Arts Corporation’s (MAAAC). He was ex-chairman of RMFC and then-member of RMFC board.

The letter blamed Deo for causing the incident. It states within that she spread misinformation about RMFC and ‘encouraged’ the attacks. That referred to @Oliviameles’ reply to her comment. Deo was also banned from the furcon as well.

The C&D letter sent to Deo. Dogpatch Press

More than just a threat?

In response, Boozy Badger, a furry civil lawyer, brought the details on the letter into question. Twitter user @NanukBurr, another furry lawyer, then dissected the C&D letter line by line.

Many furries linked the red-coloured fingerprint on it with the ‘Sovereign Citizen’. It is a tax protest movement in the United States, to which Kahuki has denied being part of.

News websites both inside and outside the fandom caught wind of this incident soon after.

Dogpatch Press, a blog with a focus on furry news, released many reports covering the incident. One of which referred to Kahuki’s past sexual misconduct offence and claimed that RMFC endorsed the Furry Raiders. They are a politically motivated social group often compared to the alternative-right movement.

On that, in 2008, Kahuki’s misconduct offence has already started to circulate back within a Vivisector forum. This led to Kahuki stepping down as chairman in 2011. He had Sorin, then-assistant co-chairman of RMFC and treasurer of MAAAC since 2007, take over the helm.

Kahuki remained as a board member of RMFC.

Picture of Sorin, then-chairman of RMFC. Sorin (@sorinkat) / Twitter

Flayrah, another furry fandom news site, reported that the furcon had tax issues. According to IRS (Internal Revenue Service) records, RMFC did not file tax returns between 2008-2015. The furcon’s non-profit status has been revoked in 2011.

Flayrah approached Sorin, then-chairman of RMFC for comment. He said they continued to donate to their charity partner Freedom Service Dogs to offset tax liabilities. All money earned were directed to the furcon’s operations while functioning as a de facto non-profit.

In 2015 our accountants realized there had been a lapse in our tax filings that were rectified May 18th, 2015 and filed with the IRS including reporting of back income. The convention has been delayed in filing it’s 2016 return but will be doing so shortly.

Sorin, then-chairman of RMFC

The aftermath

Afterwards, in a statement released on 10 April 2017, RMFC announced closure, citing that the increase in security costs – more than US$22,000 according to Scorch*, and the tweet incident involving Deo had caused so.

The furcon’s resources will be used to close costs and tax liability, send refunds to attendees and vendors, and the remainder to be sent to their charity partner Freedom Service Dogs.

Image of the statement released by RMFC prior to closure. Archive

Commission marketplace website Commissio announced on Apr 11, 2017 they will waive platform transaction fees to help furry artists recover from RMFC’s closure. This was misunderstood by some as helping the artists receive refunds.

As of Apr 14, 2017, rumours circulated. It claims Kahuki, Sorin and MAAAC board member Scorch had a dispute. One of them is a tweet posted by Chip Fox, containing many screenshots implying that an ultimatum was involved. One of the images stated, if Kahuki does not leave the furcon, it will fold.

Chip also says Scorch ‘had the Furry Raiders escalate the issue’. That is according to what he says are RMFC staff members.

“Word is getting out from the #RMFC event staff that Scorch had the @Furry_raiders escalate this problem.

Chip Fox

Whereas for RMFC, they may not be completely gone after all. Flayrah reported that Mile High Fur Con (MHFC) was announced as a replacement for the convention hours before closure. From April 14, 2017 onwards, it’s now known as DenFur.

RMFC’s parent organization MAAAC was dissolved a month later in May.

Some furries were unhappy at the furcon’s closure, and have blamed Deo due to her initial tweet reply. In view of this negative sentiment, Dogpatch Press released an article attempting to debunk the blames directed at her. The news blog platform called them an act done by alt-right furry groups to ‘scapegoat’ Deo.

Despite that, the community remains split on two different conclusions until today. On one side, RMFC is blamed for tax problems and alleged support for far-right groups. On the other side, Deo is blamed for starting this incident if not for her comment.

Editor’s notes:

  • 3/9/21 4:47pm UTC+8: Language use has been simplified for greater brevity
  • 14/11/21 11:36pm UTC+8: This article is under our “Down The Timeline” series. We added a timeline here.

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