Peoria Mayor Sued Over Response To Twitter Account
By Alex Rusciano, With Additional Reporting from The Associated Press
The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the City of Peoria for what it’s calling first and fourth amendment rights violations.
The case is built on the police raid and temporary detention of 29-year-old Jon Daniel who created the parody At-Peoria-Mayor Twitter account.
Daniel set up the account in March. It included Mayor Jim Ardis' photo, and in crude language, the tweets talked about sex and drugs.
The lawsuit called the account a "satiric form of expression protected by the First Amendment'' and said no one could have reasonably thought the tweets actually came from the mayor.
Daniel was arrested April 15, but prosecutors declined to charge him.
Harvey Grossman is the lead ACLU Attorney. He said the suit, filed in federal court, seeks unspecified monetary damages as well as a declaratory ruling.
“We’ve described several injuries that occurred to Jon and to the people of Peoria and those are the harms we want to see corrected," he said. "We have entered into consent decrees before with cities, but we would like to see an order out of the Federal Court that is instructional for the city’s officials and also prohibitory in terms of of future behavior of this nature.”
The suit names Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis, the city manager, police chief and multiple city staff. Ardis is holding firm to his defense of character defamation and injury to his family and reputation.
“I agree with the foundation of the Constitution granting us all freedom of speech," he said. "I don’t believe that freedoms allow me to say anything I want to says about anyone and anytime and attribute those things to another person.”
Ardis did not address the police action that resulted. Although in his email exchanges with the police chief and city manager on March 13th, the mayor said he “absolutely” wanted “to prosecute” in response to the twitter account matter.