Michael Phillips: Hip-Hop Poet or Dangerous Social Media Stalker?

Is Snowmass Village's Michael Phillips a hip-hop poet or a dangerous stalker who used his Instagram account and other online sites to threaten a former girlfriend? Those are among the questions surrounding the arrest of Michael Phillips. See photos and get details of his strange case, which pivots on communication in the social-media age.

See also: Is Michael Clasen First Person Charged Under New Revenge Porn Law?

Here's an Instagram photo of Phillips, complete with text that reflects on a broken relationship:

Regarding the allegations against Phillips, both the Aspen Daily News and the Aspen Times have interesting accounts, with the former noting that he's been "charged with a felony for allegedly using social media to threaten his ex-girlfriend, the same woman that led to the man's arrest on a felony stalking count in September."

The Times reveals that Phillips, who already faced a felony menacing charge in Boulder County involving a baseball bat circa 2013, was busted September 5 on suspicion of stalking and violating a protection order, based on complaints from a woman who lives out of state -- New York, according to the Daily News. The latter adds that the arrest was connected to Phillips's alleged decision to post "a sexually explicit photo of the woman on a pornography website" along with a note that read, "Putting that picture on ... right alone (sic) with you social media handles so ppl can contact you."

This description sounds like an offense that might also fall within the new revenge-porn statute that became law in Colorado earlier this year.

More recently, the woman told police Phillips had used an Instagram account to post photos of New York featuring links to the school she attends. Moreover, his biography section featured the phrases "Murder of Potential"; "you Aren't Safe"; A Cat Killa Hairy/Shaved"; "Fatale"; "T&K MUS DIE"; and "Kill FRM." Here's a screen capture of a cached version:

A police report accessed by the papers suggests that these various references contain hidden messages to the victim. Not so, Phillips maintains. He posted the following explanations on Instagram:

Phillips had been freed following the original September accusations; the Times said he'd posted a $26,500 bond. But with the fresh charges came a new bond, this one totaling $50,000 -- and a judge denied his request that the amount be lowered despite his public defender's argument that his words reflected his interest in poetry and rap music. He's due back in court on December 15 -- and in the meantime, the Daily News reports, he's been ordered not to use social media.

Here's a look at Phillips's vivid booking photo.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts