School Superintendent Promotes DV Awareness Just Days After Top Employee Tweeted A Victim’s Personal Info

Shane Wikfors | Merissa Hamilton

Earlier this month, a top employee of the Maricopa County Superintendent of Schools, tweeted an image of a public record which could be used to learn the address of a community activist who had apparently irked the employee with an earlier tweet.

That employee, Shane Wikfors, is the director of government and public relations for Superintendent Steve Watson. He is also a political consultant and a longtime board member of the Hope Women’s Center which provides services for “at-risk women and girls.”

The person he doxed on Oct. 10 was Merissa Hamilton, a survivor of domestic violence and the runner-up in the November 2020 race for Mayor of the City of Phoenix. Wikfors has since changed his Twitter settings to private, but before then he reported Hamilton for a tweet Wikfors characterized as “lies” and “hateful content and misinformation.”

Neither Superintendent Watson nor his office has issued a statement about Wikfors use of social media to publish someone’s personal information during a social media dustup. But on Wednesday afternoon Watson’s official office Twitter account promoted the fact that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The tweet also encourages people to “Wear Purple” on Thursday, Oct. 21 in order to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Arizona Daily Independent caught up with Hamilton as she was traveling for a event.  She expressed surprise that Wikfors publicly shared her personal and business information, but knew she was not going to stay silent, despite Wikfors position with Maricopa County and his work as a political consultant.

Hamilton called for Wikfors to step down from his government job on Oct. 10. She also suggested he prepare to issue an apology and attend training.

“Government bureaucrats, paid by taxpayer money, should not feel they are above citizens or that they can bully people they disagree with,” Hamilton told Arizona Daily Independent. “When people bully survivors of domestic violence, they are empowering the abuser. I’m here to say as a survivor that bullying behavior will not be tolerated.”

Hamilton’s name will be familiar to Phoenix residents, as she ran for Mayor in November 2020.  Her personal experience leaving an abusive marriage -it was “very difficult for me to get out of it” she says- led her to volunteer with other women dealing with domestic violence.

It was while helping those women that Hamilton says she frequently witnessed the court system and public servants empowering the abusers and treating children “as currency” to be bartered with.

“I found that at every step of the way, government policies almost entrap victims of domestic violence,” she said, adding that over time she realized the need to take her activism to a higher level. “We have got to take our government back.”

Hamilton is the founder and director of and travels the country educating others how they too can get involved in civic action at a grassroots level.