Originally published May 6, 2008
On April 16, the body of teacher and activist Riad Hamad was spotted floating in Lady Bird Lake in Austin, Texas. Witnesses said the man’s body had been “wrapped with duct tape.” According to News Radio 590, the police were not sure if foul play was involved. When Hamad was reported missing, the family mentioned that he was experiencing suicidal thoughts.
According to a later police report, “tape was found around [Hamad’s] eyes, and the hands and legs were loosely bound. The bindings of his hands and legs and placement of the tape were consistent with Hamad having done this to himself. Detectives know that Hamad walked from his vehicle to the water on his own based on evidence retrieved from the scene.”
The news about Hamad’s death was mostly reported in the local news, but it was spread worldwide due to a carefully orchestrated mass mailing through internet “activist” lists. Blogger Martin Solomon of Solomonia.com, who posted on Riad Hamad’s death on April 17, said, “People reading these comments should know that emails have gone out on various activist lists advising people of the death and telling people to go out proactively and make sure that Hamad is remembered as a man of peace, not a hatemonger. They’ve been advised to do it even before any stories appear so that if he is written about, that’s the view of him that’s portrayed. In fact, that’s how I found out.”