DENVER – Fur is flying between different sects of a niche community of Coloradans over allegations of neo-Nazism, unpaid taxes and fake legal threats that has led to the cancellation of the popular annual “furry” convention in Denver.
The journey down the furry wormhole started with a tweet Monday night from JJ MacNab, a Forbes writer who covers anti-government extremism.
But before getting into the rest of the story, let’s try and clear up exactly what a furry is – though even that is open to interpretation.
The Furry Writers’ Guild website, which says it is “supporting, informing, elevating, and promoting quality anthropomorphic fiction and its creators,” says furries, furs and furry fandom are “a fan community focused on appreciation of anthropomorphic animal characters (animals given human traits/characteristics.)”
But in the next paragraph on the site, it says, “If you ask ten people in the fandom for a definition of furry, you’re likely to wind up with eleven different answers.”
A Google search brings up the definition of: “An enthusiast for animal characters with human characteristics, in particular a person who dresses up in costume as such a character or uses one as an avatar online.”
Group angers other furries over hotel block, online posts
As it turns out, Colorado has a relatively-large furry population. They have gathered recently at a Fort Collins St. Patrick’s Day celebration and on an Arvada trail run. A meetup involving furries, called a “furmeet” within the community, took place in Boulder on April 1.
The 10th-annual Rocky Mountain Fur Con, a gathering of furries in Denver, had been set to be held from Aug. 11-13 at the Denver Tech Center Marriott.
Organizers said last year’s convention brought in 1,670 attendees and 65 vendors, and that 35 artists pitched the sale of 350 pieces of art at the convention. Nearly 300 people clad in their fur suits participated in a parade for the convention.
So it came as a huge surprise for many regular attendees in the community when one of its organizers abruptly announced Monday that the convention had been canceled.
“Last month, we were faced with a sudden and drastic increase in security costs amounting to more than a third of our entire existing operating budget…[which] stemmed directly from the very public threats of violence against one another by members of this community, as well as the negative backlash from misinformation spread about the convention, its staff and attendees,” the announcement of the convention’s cancellation, written by one of the board members, “Sorin,” said.
“Therefore, Rocky Mountain Fur Con 2017 is officially canceled,” the message continued. “I will no longer continue to subject my staff and our community to the lies, hate, violence and slander that was disseminated by a small, vocal minority.”
The backlash against the convention for canceling was immediate.
“Wow. You guys could not have made a worse decision,” wrote one person on the convention’s Facebook page.
“I got engaged at this con and this [was] also the con I went to on my honeymoon. That just ruined everything for me,” wrote another person.
“Love how instead of handling the situation like adults you instead shut everything down in hopes it will all just go away,” wrote another.
Why the backlash to the perceived threats? One has to travel down an internet wormhole to find out that a specific sect of furries in the Denver area is accused of rattling organizers’ cages, at least one of whom’s criminal history came into play, as did a threatening, but legally-dubious letter.
‘Furry Raiders’ cause stir in Colorado’s community
The intricacies of the story were first reported on the Dogpatch Press, a blog devoted to news about the furry community, in a post published Monday called “Rocky Mountain Fur Con backs neo-nazis, sex offender to intimidate critic for reporting threat.” There was also a post made on Flayrah, another furry-devoted website, on Monday as well that covered the allegations.
The series of incidents that led to the cancellation of this year’s convention were set in motion during last year’s convention, if not earlier, when the “Furry Raiders,” a group of Denver-area furries, were accused of breaking convention rules by booking hotel rooms that were part of the convention’s discounted room block ahead of their availability opening, angering other attendees. (They later released some of the rooms.)
“The Furry Raiders self-create an ‘us vs. them’ situation by provoking others so they can pretend to be treated unfairly,” the Dogpatch Press wrote.
One of the leaders of the Furry Raiders, a Fort Colins man who goes by “Foxler Nightfire” (an apparent combination of Fox and Hitler, according to many in the furry community), usually wears black shirts and a red arm band similar to those worn by Nazis, but with a paw print instead of a swastika. Foxler was photographed making a Nazi salute at one point (screenshot from Twitter below), then used the hashtag #altfurry in another tweet, which he pinned to the top of his profile.
But the group has taken to making more armbands, though not all are as similar to those worn by the Nazis and are fashioned in different colors, including a tie-dye one and a rainbow one. A tweet from the group said it had given out 53 of the arm bands by March 24.
A group of anti-fascist furries started to combat the Furry Raiders and other furry groups accused of being involved with pseudo-fascist and purported neo-Nazi groups.
At one point, one of the “antifa” furries threatened on Twitter to “punch these Nazis,” setting off a string of replies – one of which involved the threat of a shooting, which was reported to Twitter.
This came as RMFC banned some of the Furry Raiders' signature regalia.
Then, the person who reported the threat was reportedly banned via a letter from the Rock Mountain Fur Con by Kendal R. Emery, the man who is listed as the registered agent of Mid America Anthropomorphic and Art Corporation, the nonprofit head corporation of RMFC.
I only found out about "Kahuki" Kendal Emery the convicted felon after he & RMFC/MAAAC doxxed me & mailed this fake-legal threat to my home: pic.twitter.com/LbyeS0qLPw
— Deo Con Cucker (@DeoTasDevil) April 10, 2017
In the letter, which the reporter, Twitter user DeoTasDevil, posted to her account, Emery accused her of “spreading false information about RMFC,” making “false statements,” and threatened criminal action against her, calling the letter a “cease and desist” letter.
“Further, this letter constitutes an official ban of our attendance at Rocky Mountain Fur Con. If you register and send a registration fee; your registration will be canceled and you will forfeit your registration fee,” the letter says.
Head of company that operates RMFC exposed
But the letter was not signed by an attorney, nor did it contain language or punctuation consistent with those typically used by lawyers. But it did contain a red thumb print, sometimes associated with a movement the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies as extremists.
And Kendal Emery, the man who signed the letter and the self-identified “Chief Executive Contract Law Officer” for Midwest Anthropomorphic Arts Corporation, is a convicted sex offender.
The Arvada man pleaded no contest to three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor in 1993 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, near his native Carlsbad. New Mexico court records show he served at least probation and underwent out-patient counseling as part of his sentence.
But that isn’t the end of Emery’s issues: though he registered Mid America Anthropomorphic and Art Corporation in Colorado in 2005 at an Aurora address and also with the IRS, the IRS revoked the company’s status in May 2011 and has not reinstated it.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, however, shows the 501(c)(3) in “good standing.”
And though some on furry-devoted sites have claimed that Emery was removed from RMFC after people found out about his convictions, filings from last June in Colorado show Emery is still the registered agent of the parent company.
Sorin, whose real name is Zachary Brooks and who lived in Westminster when he signed on as secretary and treasurer of Mid America Anthropomorphic and Art Corporation in 2005, said nothing of Emery in his letter to attendees announcing the cancellation.
What happens now for RMFC
But he did say that the convention is working to issue refunds to people who had already signed up as vendors or attendees – though that will happen after it “close[s] [its] costs and tax liability.”
“We had hoped to see this convention continue to grow and flourish but that is no longer an option,” he said.
Those hoping for a refund have been asked to contact the convention and its organizers.
“While we do not know how much money the convention will have after closing out any outstanding debts, we do intend to prioritize refunds for all the attendees we can,” a Facebook post from the convention written just before midnight Tuesday says.
And a company called Commissio is offering to help get refunds for artists who were set to go to the conference.
Attempts by Denver7 to reach those involved were unsuccessful.
Denver7's Alan Gathright contributed to this report.