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Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit 163

Posted by timothy
from the and-how-will-this-play-out dept.
mpicpp (3454017) writes with an update from Ars Technica to this story: "The Illinois man who made headlines when he was detained for parodying the town's mayor on Twitter sued the Peoria politician and local police, claiming on Thursday that his civil rights were violated. As part of the April raid, the authorities seized the mobile phone and laptop of the 29-year-old prankster, Jonathan Daniel, and reviewed their contents, which he says was in violation of his First Amendment rights. Daniel, the operator of the @peoriamayor handle shut down by Twitter after the city threatened a lawsuit, was initially accused of impersonating a public official in violation of Illinois law. The authorities never lodged charges, however."
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Man Arrested For Parodying Mayor On Twitter Files Civil Rights Lawsuit

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday June 13, 2014 @09:51PM (#47234425)

    the question is not if they had grounds to detain him. You can FIND grounds to detain anyone. Searching his phone without a warrant though is (should be) serious trouble. The cops should have known better. And if you'd seen the tweets, it was pretty obvious this was NOT the mayor.... I think it has good standing as Parody, but IANAL.

  • by sumdumass (711423) on Friday June 13, 2014 @10:21PM (#47234537) Journal

    The fourth (warrant) doesn't really matter (and yes they did have one). This guy is claiming 1st amendment US constitution and article 1 section 4 of the Illinois state constitution here.

    He is saying he has a right to mock politicians. Even if they filed charges, his first amendment claims simply becomes a defense but it appears that the only charges they could file is if the fake account attempted to impersonate a government official in their official capacity. The problem here is that the comments or tweets were about smoking crack, eating pussy, and crap like that in response to the mayor's actions. For the law in question to apply, he would have had to say something like the mayors office is supporting the Gay KKK rally or something of the sorts that would make the public believe government was taking an action or position on something. But it appears to have all been personal degradation and character assassinations (which may open a civil suit but still would have no net effect on the first amendment claims).

  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Friday June 13, 2014 @10:45PM (#47234603) Journal
    It was listed as being a parody account several days before the raid.
  • by plover (150551) on Friday June 13, 2014 @10:49PM (#47234607) Homepage Journal

    But it appears to have all been personal degradation and character assassinations (which may open a civil suit but still would have no net effect on the first amendment claims).

    Libel laws have much tighter requirements in the case of a "public figure", where actual financial harm has to be proven. The (real) mayor can't simply claim "his false statements made me embarrassed, so I want $10,000 in pain and suffering", he has to show real losses, as in "when he claimed I smoked crack, my boss filled out an HR form that said they had to fire me because they couldn't have a drug user driving forklifts, so I was fired, and lost $10,000 in wages."

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Friday June 13, 2014 @11:13PM (#47234699) Journal

    I don't think you'll need to fund it. If you haven't read the PDF of his complaint, the listing of facts is surprisingly strong.

    Seriously, it is short, just read the few pages in the middle. Complaint in PDF [arstechnica.net].

    The claims include that there are written documents (probably email) between the mayor and the chief of police, where the mayor tells the cops to do something, the police chief says there is no legal basis, and the mayor tells him to do it anyway. Then the claims include that the cops made written statements (again, probably email) that show officers were ordered to arrest him, they balked saying there was no legal basis, but the police chief ordered it anyway. If he has those emails, that is rather damning.

    The list of claims continues by citing court records, where the police filed an empty form citing no probable cause even though the law requires proper documentation. Granting a warrant based on a blank probable cause statement is also pretty damning for those involved.

    If he actually has those papers, city officials and court officials declaring that they knew it was illegal but did it anyway, that is going to be hard for the individuals to deny.

    A few of them are likely just CYA papers, but if accurate, the exchange boils down to this: "Do this illegal thing." "Sorry boss, it is against the law." "I know it is against the law, do it anyway." If the allegations can be substantiated (and since the suit says those are all public official records, it should be easy to validate) then this case will be a quick settlement.

  • by Frobnicator (565869) on Friday June 13, 2014 @11:14PM (#47234705) Journal

    you could mock the mayor on twitter. sounds like he deserves it.

    The mayor already resigned. He's still being sued, but he is no longer in office.

  • More: (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @01:52AM (#47235077)
    Quoting:

    The account had fewer than 50 followers, yet now "there are more than a dozen copycat accounts."
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @09:22AM (#47235939)

    > The mayor already resigned. He's still being sued, but he is no longer in office.

    That is false. Jim Ardis is still in office. [peoriagov.org]

    It is the Chief of Police who resigned [centralillinoisproud.com] to take a job as head of north american security for Caterpillar where he is surely making even more money.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 14, 2014 @10:04AM (#47236115)
    dammit both of you it's http://soylentnews.org [soylentnews.org]

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