ACLU Could File Lawsuit Over Peoria Fake Twitter Account
By Denise Molina
The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois plans to get involved in the debacle surrounding a fake Peoria Mayor Twitter account.
The ACLU made a statement Tuesday saying the group intends to bring legal action against those responsible for violating the First and Fourth Amendment rights of Jon Daniel. He was the creator of the @peoriamayor account.
Peoria police raided Daniel’s home in April, seized various electronic devices and detained individuals at the residence to find the author of the Twitter account. Jacob Elliot was arrested for marijuana possession.
ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said political parody is protected speech, and should not have led to the action taken against Daniel and other occupants in his home.
"If you look at Twitter today, there are thousands of parody accounts of athletes, and celebrities, and actors, and actresses, and political figures," he said. "And we cannot find a single instance in which any of those people have ever used the power of the police to shut down and then detain someone simply for putting something on Twitter that the elected official didn’t like.”
The city of Peoria and possibly Mayor Jim Ardis could be faced with a lawsuit.
Yohnka sais the ACLU initially intervened on behalf of Daniel and Jacob Elliot, demanding city police and the Peoria County State’s Attorney return all of the electronic devices taken during the April 15th raid.
He said the group hopes the lawsuit sends the message that wrongful use of police power to suppress protected speech is unacceptable.
Those items were returned. Yohnka says the lawsuit could be filed in the coming weeks.