SEATTLE, Washington (KING) - A Washington engineer and inventor recently learned he'd been targeted by a racist website, and he's not alone. The site's also taken aim at Oprah, President Obama, and Trayvon Martin.
Julian Sharpe invented a tsunami survival capsule a few years ago, and received some media attention as a result.
"I googled him, because he invented this survival capsule and I like to keep up to date with stories that come out about him and competition we might have," said his wife, Heidie Sharpe.
What Heidie found online was not at all what she was looking for.
"I came across this site called Chimpmania.com," she said. "And you scroll down, and there's vile comments, one after the other."
Many of the comments took aim at her husband. Others attacked both of them because they're a biracial couple.
"Then I scrolled down and I saw pictures of all four of our children and I started to get really upset," Heidie said.
For her, that was the last straw. Julian felt the same way.
"I was the only black person in my high school. I got called names all the time and it's like water off a duck's back," he said. "But this is getting children who don't have a say involved in a situation that has nothing to do with them," he said.
Heidie set out to contact the website and ask them to remove the pictures of her children, but she soon learned that was no easy task.
"These companies hire sites and then they go through other sites to hide where their site is originally from. They're called proxies," she said.
She filed a police report with the Mukilteo Police Department and in the United Kingdom, where she believes the website is based. Both agencies told the Sharpes they couldn't offer much help.
Still, Heidie isn't giving up.
"My goal is not to change anyone or try to change anyone's beliefs. My goal is to hold the companies accountable that are hiding these websites," she said.
Next, she contacted the ACLU, the NAACP and started a petition on Change.org to get the site shut down. In just a few days, her petition has gotten more than 300 signatures.
Cyber security experts tell KING 5 that websites like this one can be incredibly difficult to trace. If you can identify and locate the website's hosting provider, you may be able to ask them to take the site down.
In the Sharpe's case, since the offending website is hidden beneath many layers of proxies, they haven't yet been able to do that.
If all else fails, cyber security experts recommend contacting the Seattle FBI office and enlisting their help.
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