Midwest Furfest 2017 broke the attendance record of all furry cons by the margin of a small con itself. It raised an eye-popping $86,000 for an animal charity that was previously in the red and is now funded for years. Twitter was on fire about the smashing success for the fandom. Among many ecstatic posts by attendees, of course there had to be some kind of drama too. It came with a fursuiter being arrested. Here’s the story pieced together by claims on twitter:
Scene: a hotel lobby. A black, red and white wolf fursuiter with a German WW1 style Pickelhaube helmet is parading around. People taking photos are greeted by offensive behavior like saluting with a “Sieg Heil” and shouting racist things. It causes hotel and/or con security to pursue him, and he flees and gets cornered in some bushes until the police come. They make him take off his suit, and he’s taken away in underwear. He was previously banned from the con and hotel, and the charges involve trespassing and assaulting a staff member before his arrest.
Some of those claims may be disputed (especially the nazi part), so let’s look deeper for the truth. Here’s an arrest record. Associates confirm the fursuiter who matches it is Magnus Diridian, AKA Rob Shokawsky (real name Robert Sojkowski). What is Magnus known for in furry fandom?
- Fake Lemonade Coyote: At Anthrocon 2014, Magnus gained notoriety with a “bootleg” fursuit made to imitate a furry who died on duty as an EMT. People mourning his death were unhappy about exploitation of his image, which continues in 2017.
- Confederate flag fursuit: At Anthrocon 2017, Magnus caused more anger with a flag-design fursuit and a Trump sign. It was a protest of takedown of the flags around the USA due to their racist association, following national attention on hate crime murders by Dylann Roof. The story was covered in a Dogpatch Press article: The Confederate fursuit incident shows how you can’t be a troll and a victim at the same time.
- Grimace McWendy’s: Custom suits show that Magnus puts a lot of effort into these events. If it’s not just calculated to troll, isn’t that’s a loveable quality? The same is said by people close to him who are earnest about defending him as a nice guy. I have to admit that this fursuit makes me laugh and I have to admire the creative humor. (Suiting video).
Then there’s the crime record. Here’s an extensive record starting in 1990 when he was 18. It includes charges like: disorderly conduct, prowling at night, harassment, terroristic threats, “ethnic intimidation”, reckless endangerment, cruelty to animals, possessing instruments of crime with intent, numerous counts of theft and receiving stolen property, fighting, and most recently a battery charge (dismissed in 2016).
Such sensitive info could use care – people’s pasts can be their business, like bad credit shouldn’t be held against someone if they aren’t borrowing your money. Old shoplifting incidents may not add up to that much, and many people get into fights at some point in life. Everyone deserves credit for making mistakes as a kid or doing time and having a clean slate again… but things pile up when “benefit of the doubt” is in question. Magnus may be nice to friends and a great guy in many cases, but con staff worry about this stuff to do their jobs. When a con has a problem, every attendee has one too.
Let’s get back to MFF 2017. Below are tweets from when things came out – then we’ll compare a defense by Magnus himself with reports by witnesses.
Pic of fur arrested at MFF, was banned but made a scene anyways. More details withheld for now. pic.twitter.com/9Sx7Z6CTqU— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 2, 2017
Remember the Confederate flag fursuiter? It turns out that he got arrested at MFF for Wearing a World War I German Uniform while shouting out Nazi Expletives. pic.twitter.com/9QVpUjJWKG— Biogodz | MFF2017 (@Biogodz) December 2, 2017
First night of #MFF and Magnus Diridian gets kicked out a con... again! Apparently he was told in advanced by the hotel that he wasn't allowed due to his past actions there. He came anyway, disturbed the guests & got arrested when he didn't leave as told.— The Great and Magical Coquito Pupper (@vappyflame) December 2, 2017
Listen everyone, stop calling him “the confederate flag fursuiter” and call him by his name, Magnus Diridian, sole proprietor of Chirrfull Creations and maker of these fine works of art pic.twitter.com/DUMxmHVaU8— reaux (@reauxpudu) December 3, 2017
btw here's acid revelation. its low quality because i screencapped it from a youtube video. pic.twitter.com/6xQUmN8Gjq— red panda with a name that shouldnt be this long (@SerrisV) December 3, 2017
Can anyone explain to me how Magnus Diridian has a new offensive fursuit every six months? How much disposable income can one guy have?— Arrow supports Net Neutrality (@AQuivershaft) December 3, 2017
Like, last night, I witnessed Magnus get arrested. He’s doing a Nazi salute, while wearing a WWI Kaiser helmet, with American Purple Heart ribbons. That’s two separate eras and two separate nations at war.— Brutus @ MFF (@BrutusDBernard) December 3, 2017
About the MFF arrest drama, try not to be That Pedant about the suit not being related. Magnus designs suits to provoke like the bootleg Lemonade Coyote and Confederate fursuits. This nailed it. https://t.co/x7qFkvI1zf— Dogpatch Press (@DogpatchPress) December 2, 2017
They're playing "I'm not touching you" because they have this weird idea that private entities will play their game of technicalities.— Socratic Method Acting (@ChaKatKimber) December 2, 2017
Please note that the altfurries are trying to disavow Magnus because he disrupts their narrative of altfurries having done nothing wrong and having broken no law.— VƎX qualifies as a service animal in 15 US states (@andreuswolf) December 5, 2017
It is a lie. They specifically recruited him.
also worth adding: Magnus Diridian has an extensive criminal record including threatening to bomb a local bank about 10 years ago— fall out futch @ NYFB+ANE (@JUNIUS_64) December 2, 2017
trying to get access to the public court docs, just bc I wouldn’t blame y’all for thinking all this stuff was too wild to be true
guy is messed up https://t.co/GVpyAGWQWx
Bad Dragon didn’t make a “sit on a Pickelhaube” toy.
Digging into more details:
- Charges: Con staff told me that Magnus was approached, pursued and arrested because he was banned from the con space and hotel. A defender tells me no drugs or alcohol were involved, the charges aren’t too serious and Magnus got out on $100 bail, but he can’t go back to the con.
- Disputing Nazi labels: The same defender says that he made a German fursuit and spoke German, so people overhyped the issue. Others say a WWI German character (a Baron von Hindenberg type) isn’t a nazi, which is technically true. It’s also true that replacing a swastika with a paw print on a nazi armband is still a callback to nazi symbolism. “Dogwhistles” are a popular tactic. Magnus’s history of making fursuits to reference high profile fandom events says there’s little point in denying a reference to nazis in 2017. Not necessarily racist but indubitably a troll.
- Altfurry and the Furry Raiders say that Magnus isn’t a member of their groups, deflecting the way his Confederate suiting made him their cause célèbre for free speech. Which itself is manipulative because free speech involves public matters, but a private event can set its own rules to limit trolling. Inside sources that helped me to expose the Altfurry Discord chat logs confirmed that the group sought to meet Magnus at AC, and he is friendly with Foxler.
- Being arrested in underwear has to be a horrible experience that dehumanizes a furry no matter what came before. Events came out on Twitter on Friday 12/1 and the arrest record shows booking on 12/4, so if accurate, he may have spent a weekend in a cold, painful holding cell.
I have to ask: what was he thinking with all that preparation for a just few wasted minutes of negative attention? He’s almost 46 and it took a great deal of energy and money to get quickly arrested. He got to sit in a cell while everyone else enjoyed great times. How does someone find this a worthy use of energy? Magnus himself tried downplaying it on social media by hinting that there was no arrest and it was rumor. But of course that wasn’t going to work. His post about it aims to deflect blame for an event he built a suit for, like previous incidents. That’s hard to call an unexpected coincidence:
“Yeah, that’s not at all what happened. I didn’t see any salutes, as I was outside, but I did see his run. Con staff didn’t appear to be blocking him at all. A con goer did try to stop him when he ran out the doors, but at no point did I see the con staff actually try to blockade him, much less form a “human wall”. He got into a shoving match with the con goer, and once he shoved them aside, he ran off with con staff trying to catch up to him. As for the bit about shouting Nazi slogans, Sieg Heil was about all I heard. Since I was outside I only really caught the aftermath. Can’t really say for sure it was 100% the suiter that shouted it.”
Another source saw him pushing against people in front of the doors, and sent photos. I see what looks like two staffers standing off to either side.
So what is the real story? Isn’t this just trivial trolling to ignore? Why so much attention on Magnus for one little incident? Well, with such an ongoing history of staging scenes at cons he’s been banned from, coming back again and again shows an obsession with getting attention. He has expressed anger at MFF staff now and in past years. One may ask when he’ll strike again. And let’s close with something to think about.
A reader commented on the July 2017 article about the Confederate fursuit, describing a crime that used chemicals:
“Robert Sojokowski did commit a terror attack against a bank in 2004.
And here in his own words are things he actually said in that post:
“So, back in I went, and set it off DIRECTLY IN FRONT OF THE TELLER after making another deposit.”
“I drove past the bank on my way home 5 minutes later and nothing seemed amiss. So I figured things were cool.”
“They illegally raised the terroristic threat charge to a felony”
“Hazmat team was sent to the scene as well as the fire department. A pregnant woman was rushed to the hospital.”
This is the kind of person we’re dealing with. A person whose actions put a pregnant woman in the hospital over $100 in bank fees and then complains that he was charged with a felony.
Posting this anonymously because I am worried for my safety.”
Then there’s this.
19 people were hospitalized, some with long lasting lung damage (one wrote about the experience). A furry with a troubled history falsely claimed responsibility, but was ruled out as a suspect. The story was revisited by Vice in CSI Fur Fest: The Unsolved Case of the Gas Attack at a Furry Convention.
Michael on Facebook doesn’t want to be contacted. I would hope there isn’t more to this, but I have a feeling it will come up again.
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