Posts Tagged ‘using social media is not a crime’

Wisconsin Police Arrested Man For Facebook Comments, Lawsuit Settlement Costs $43 Per Resident

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

Speaking freely on social media is not a crime.
Posting angry Facebook comments on police departments’ official pages isn’t a crime either, it’s protected by the 1st Amendment.
A $35,000 legal settlement will cost residents of Wisconsin’s Village of Arena each $43 per man woman and child.
Because Wisconsin police violated a man’s First Amendment rights to post comments on their public Facebook page – which isn’t customized anymore, but still accepts review and comments.
The Arena Police Department arrested 23 year old Thomas G. Smith three years ago for Disorderly Conduct and other charges because of two FB comments.
It was a callous act of censorship.
One must now wonder what Village of Arena needs protection from, more than protection from it’s own police officers as Popehat postulated, and the Arena Police K9 officer and dog unit. The enclave 800 residents would fit neatly into a single suburban subdivision. The town is 35 miles away from Madison and 8 miles away from its next slightly bigger neighboring town.
Smith probably never expected all of the attention over one Facebook comment about an incident where the mostly white town’s officers arrested several african-american men.
But he didn’t know how thin skinned Wisconsin police can be when you make accusatory remarks.
Mr. Smith was arrested for saying this: “Fuck this fucking cops they ant shit but fucking racist basturds an fucking all of y’all who is racist.” and this (italicized text indicates Smith’s words and spelling as in original) too, “Fuck them nigers bitchs wat you got on us not a dam thing so fuck off dicks.”
As a 2014 article in Huffington post noted, even saying “fucking asshole” in a hushed tone to a police officer’s face even falls under the realm of protected 1st amendment free speech.
After the arrest and subsequent prosecution, an Iowa County Wisconsin Judge and jury initially convicted Smith of using “fighting words” which is Disorderly Conduct over the internet, and

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