Sep 16

Court Rules Police Can't Block or Censor Facebook Posts

An Indianapolis woman has made a complaint to the local ACLU about being barred from posting on a local public Facebook page.

Kymberly Quick, a Beech Grove resident claims in her complaint, that her simple, even respectful, comment that was critical of the Mayor's Facebook post was not only removed but her ability to comment was taken away. Being that this is a public ran page, that is run by publicly paid employees, Mrs. Quick feels her right to free speech and free expression has been violated.

The ACLU agreed with her assessment and decided to file a lawsuit against the city on behalf of Mrs. Quick as well as another woman who has the same thing happen shortly after.

The case poses the question: Does a government Facebook page have the right to monitor itself, and remove comments it deems critical?

The Indy Star Reports: 

The lawsuit says the two women, active in the community's crime prevention initiatives, often posted positive feedback on the page. Occasionally, though, they questioned department policies and information, and its response to various matters.

The department's Facebook page has a terms of use warning, stating: “All city of Beech Grove social media content is subject to monitoring. User-generated posts will be rejected or removed, and the user could be blocked." The page lists possible reasons a user may be blocked, including leveling personal attacks, using obscenities or offensive terms and promoting violence.

"When a government entity opens up a space for public comment, it cannot regulate those comments based upon someone's viewpoint," said Jan Mensz, ACLU of Indiana staff attorney, in a statement. "By giving itself unbridled discretion to determine what comments it deems acceptable, the city of Beech Grove has put all public speech on its social media sites at risk of further censorship."

The courts agreed with the ACLU's assessment. Nearly a month after two women sued the city of Beech Grove for deleting public comments from the city Police Department's Facebook page, a settlement has been reached.

On Thursday August 4th 2016, a settlement was entered into the court. The city agreed to pay $7,412.50 in costs and attorneys' fees. Also the order stipulated that the women's Facebook accounts will be un-blocked and allowed to post to the page.

Craig Wiley, The city's attorney said the city doesn't believe Facebook is a public forum, but officials decided to settle to avoid potential litigation costs to Beech Grove residents.

It's a true mystery to me how these public servants believe that they can not only control what the public does, but also how they feel. Police and Government agencies across the country have started running everything how they want. They no longer are answering to the very people they are supposed to work for.

When we cease to be in control of our representatives, are they still our representatives? Do these people have the faith of you or the people that you love? If not then they are not a consenting government, they are a foreign invader.

Thomas Jefferson said --     When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.  

Think About It.

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Severin Freeman has been involved in activism for several years. He believes that all people should be treated totally equal and that no one has a higher claim to us or our freedom, than ourselves. He has played a role in the founding and growth of many activist groups across the Lehigh Valley area. His mission has become to expose those that would threaten our freedom and natural liberties.