Judge OKs Peoria SWAT raid over parody Twitter account - Liberty Justice Center

Judge OKs Peoria SWAT raid over parody Twitter account

If someone made fun of you on Twitter, how would you respond? If you’re Peoria, Illinois, Mayor Jim Ardis, you just pressure the police to raid the prankster’s home; and apparently the courts will back you up.

Back in March, Jon Daniel of Peoria created the Twitter account “@peoriamayor” from which he sent out a variety of crude tweets about drug use, alcohol, sex and other subjects as if he were the mayor himself. It was meant as a joke for his friends, and was clearly farcical. The account only had around 50 followers and even added a notice that it was a parody just a few days after it was created.

The real Mayor Jim Ardis, however, wasn’t amused. In a now widely covered story, he pressured local police forces to arrest whoever was responsible for the tweets, even after Peoria’s police chief informed him that the account “does not constitute a criminal violation. After raiding his home, police questioned Daniel and released him without charges. But they allegedly found marijuana with his roommate’s belongings, and now the roommate faces criminal charges.

On Sept. 16, a Peoria judge ruled that police had probable cause to conduct the search – even though police admitted beforehand that no crime had taken place.

Outside of Peoria, mocking politicians on Twitter through fake accounts has become commonplace – without the police getting involved. From late 2010 to early 2011, the account @MayorEmanuel mocked Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the tune of over 31,000 followers. And whatever Emanuel’s other flaws may be, he responded in good humor by offering to donate $5,000 to charity if the owner of the account revealed himself. He didn’t send police to raid the man’s home and arrest him.

It’s outrageous enough that police are sent out to deal with the mayor’s personal vendettas instead of solving or preventing crimes. But even more absurd is a mayor who doesn’t understand the First Amendment. In a fitting turn of events, at least 15 fake Twitter accounts mocking Jim Ardis exist today. And Mayor Ardis is being sued by the ACLU for suppressing free-speech rights as well as the unreasonable search and seizure in Jon Daniel’s home.

Hopefully this will serve as an example to other politicians not to abuse their authority and waste taxpayer funds for personal gain.

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