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Man Says He Was Arrested for Calling Police Racists on Facebook

Supposedly our right to free speech is guaranteed under the Constitution, but one man says facebookmaking a derogatory comment about police on social media cost him his freedom.

Thomas G. Smith says that in 2012, he responded to what he believed was a bigoted Facebook post by the Arena Police Department in Wisconsin by calling the police racists.

Smith says the department’s Facebook page had thanked members of the community for helping to detain two black children. Smith deemed the comment racist and made his feelings known by posting on the thread.

One would think such an accusation would result in, at most, Mr. Smith’s comment being deleted by the moderator of the Facebook account. Instead, the situation quickly ballooned out of control, with Smith getting a call from police asking if he’d posted the offending comment. Smith admitted that he had posted the comment and later that night, police came to Smith’s home and arrested him.

Prosecutors allege that Smith’s speech was not protected under the Constitution because it could possible incite violence.

A court eventually ruled that Smith’s comments were protected by the Constitution.

“But in July, a state appellate judge overturned the case on the grounds that the Supreme Court’s so-called “fighting words doctrine” only applied when the speaker was in close proximity to the listener. The judge ruled that Smith’s Facebook messages should have been protected under the First Amendment,” the Raw Story reports.

In his lawsuit, Smith claims that police wouldn’t let it go and began to retaliate against him for the Facebook comment. He is seeking unspecified damages.

 

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