Like many parents of preteens, Loui Brezzell keeps an eye on her daughter's social media feeds. That's particularly prudent in her case because her youngster is Amariyanna ("Mari") Copeny, better known as clean water activist "Little Miss Flint."
The poised, charming 11-year-old became a high-profile spokeschild during her city's water crisis and remains active. She speaks regularly at events and is the face of a GoFundMe drive that has raised more than $132,000 since last April to provide bottled water for neighbors. She has met Barack Obama, Rachel Maddow, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen Degeneres and other big shots.
Mari also attracts unwanted attention from strangers on Twitter, where she has nearly 89,000 followers and where her 29-year-old mom on Saturday night disabled access that let anyone send a direct message. Brezzell also calls out the six latest private message senders:
Sooooo...grown men...let’s not do this. Stay out of my kids inbox. The fact you think it’s ok to slide in the DM of a 11 year old is sick. -LL pic.twitter.com/3QyrXCLFDe— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) February 10, 2019
Her tweet generates wide attention, with more than 8,300 retweets, 23,000 likes, over 800 comments and a shout from Essence magazine: "What we're not going to do is prey on @LittleMissFlint."
"That is just creepy and gross," replies Joann Sarcinella of Mahopac, N.Y.
Locally, Detroit marketing executive Eric Thomas posts Sunday on Facebook: "What's happening? ... Who I gotta fight? I'll fight you. I'll fight you for real."
Surprisingly, one of the inbox intruders -- whose Twitter page says he lives in the Congo -- also jumps in and accuses the parent of misjudging him and being "impolite and disrespectful:"
You just saw the greeting I gave your daughter, but you did not see the encouragement and congratulations I presented to her? I am a responsible and serious person, I am not pedophile as you think, I just wanted to encourage her, but as his mother is impolite and disrespectful pic.twitter.com/HtYDCJ0FnW— Brel Alvin (@Alvin94700367) February 10, 2019
Brezzell replies from her child's account: "As a grown man, you have no reason to be in any child's inbox." (Her tweet is in all caps.)
In the thread under Saturday's tweet, Brezzell responds to support and concern:
There is more. Those were just the first 6. Some even worse then this. -LL— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) February 10, 2019
She has seen a few of them when I was going through them. She said that's disgusting and those men need to get a life with people their own age. -LL— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) February 10, 2019
Im pretty sure i just fixed it. Can you see if the message button is still available. -LL— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint) February 10, 2019
Among the hundreds of reactions is one from a North Carolina attorney, Harvard Law School graduate Leto Copeley, who says: "Think about the kids without vigilant parents, who feel lonely/unloved/misunderstood and might respond."