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posted by LaminatorX on Thursday April 17 2014, @04:32PM   Printer-friendly
from the I-Miss-Fake-Steve-Jobs dept.

Police in Peoria, IL raided the home of a 27 year-old resident who set up a parody Twitter account for the Peoria mayor. The raid did not result in any arrests, but computers and phones were seized and the residents questioned. The police are investigating the account for breaking a law forbidding "impersonating a public official". If the case moves forward, the alleged owner of the account, Michelle Pratt, could face a $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail.

Even if it is eventually dropped, this could have a chilling effect on satirical political speech and seems like a massive overstep by a local police force to save face for an elected official.

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  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:00PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:00PM (#32736)

    obviously doesn't play in Peoria

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Skarjak on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:15PM

    by Skarjak (730) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:15PM (#32746)

    It's not crazy talk anymore: we are globally moving towards police states being the norm. It seems difficult to reverse the tendancy, with the security argument winning over a lot of people and critics being silenced. Even the internet, last true bastion of freedom out there, is under assault. What are we supposed to do?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:19PM

      by frojack (1554) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:19PM (#32748) Journal

      Oh, come on. This gets tossed the first time it comes to court.
      And probably the Police (and city government) pay dearly for attempting this, perhaps millions of dollars.

      Its a "use once" tactic, that courts are striking down as fast as they appear.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:26PM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:26PM (#32750) Homepage

        You are likely correct about this particular incident, but there is a trend of the Feds skirting laws by outsourcing their work to criminals, corporations, and common cops by way of fusion centers, [wikipedia.org] etc. See also: parallel construction. [wikipedia.org]

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by SuddenOutbreak on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:46PM

        by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:46PM (#32758)

        Oh, come on. This gets tossed the first time it comes to court. And probably the Police (and city government) pay dearly for attempting this, perhaps millions of dollars.

        It MAY get thrown out, but the crime remains on the books, and the threat of arrest, with its commensurate loss of time, computer equipment, and money, are pretty damn chilling anyway. The computer equipment may never be recovered, or recovered in a completely unusable state.

        Note in Louisiana where police were rounding up men for breaking an anti-sodomy law which had already been deemed unconstitutional [msnbc.com]. 'When asked to defend the arrest, the sheriff's office pointed to the statute that's "still on the books of the Louisiana criminal code." '

        • (Score: 5, Interesting) by tathra on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:01PM

          by tathra (3367) on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:01PM (#32879)

          'When asked to defend the arrest, the sheriff's office pointed to the statute that's "still on the books of the Louisiana criminal code." '

          then anyone affected has grounds to sue (and absolutely should). laws that are deemed unconstitutional [wikipedia.org] are immediately void, [wikipedia.org] and are to be treated as if they never existed (because they never legitimately did), and can not legitimately be enforced. the law has been struck down, therefore it is not still on the books - that sheriff and his officers are breaking the law and should be charged with, at a minimum, kidnapping and false imprisonment, in addition to assault, battery, harassment, and all the other crimes they are committing.

      • (Score: 2, Informative) by SuddenOutbreak on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:49PM

        by SuddenOutbreak (3961) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:49PM (#32760)
        FTFA: ...as were two other people who were met by police at their workplaces.

        Yes, at a lot of places, this is also how you lose your job. Pretty chilling.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Angry Jesus on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:20PM

          by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:20PM (#32774)

          > FTFA: ...as were two other people who were met by police at their workplaces.
          >
          > Yes, at a lot of places, this is also how you lose your job. Pretty chilling.

          As a lot of the wrong kind of cops are fond saying, "You might beat the rap, but you won't beat the ride."

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by computersareevil on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:34PM

      by computersareevil (749) on Thursday April 17 2014, @05:34PM (#32754)

      They only need to use it once, if they can get enough press coverage of how ruined the victim's life and finances are.

      Better yet if they can shoot the family dog during the paramilitary raid.

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by sjames on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:02PM

        by sjames (2882) on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:02PM (#32766) Journal

        That's the real problem here. Thanks to a complete failure to control costs and limit impact, we have devolved to a system where the prosecutor picks people to punish and the whole court procedure is just deciding how much more punishment to add on.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:14PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:14PM (#32797)

          Yes indeed we have transformed the process of investigating crimes to pre-emptively arrest people based on database queries.

    • (Score: 1) by Rune of Doom on Thursday April 17 2014, @09:54PM

      by Rune of Doom (1392) on Thursday April 17 2014, @09:54PM (#32848)

      We can exercise our pedal veto while we still can. I'm looking at Canada myself. (It's not perfect, but it's better than here and gets you a Commonwealth passport.

      As for the article, "a chilling effect on satirical political speech and seems like a massive overstep by a local police force to save face for an elected official" seems like par for the course in 21st century America.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Joe Desertrat on Friday April 18 2014, @01:49AM

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Friday April 18 2014, @01:49AM (#32925)

      Edward Abbey said it well: "...history demonstrates that personal liberty is a rare and precious thing, that all societies tend toward the absolute until attack from without or collapse from within breaks up the social machine and makes freedom and innovation again possible".

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Bartman12345 on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:36PM

    by Bartman12345 (1317) on Thursday April 17 2014, @06:36PM (#32778)

    Since the account has now been disabled, it's now impossible to judge who is at fault here. Michelle says the site was an obvious fake, Settingsgaard says otherwise. If the account was indeed intended to give the impression that it was legit, then Michelle deserves everything she gets. I would be pissed if someone was impersonating me online, it would be worse for someone who is in the public eye constantly.

    Michelle may, of course, be justified in her claim... but I have a feeling she may have pushed the envelope just a little too far. Time will tell.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by HiThere on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:38PM

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:38PM (#32808) Journal

      Since the account has now been disabled, it's now impossible to judge who is ... , it would be worse for someone who is in the public eye constantly.

      Michelle may, of course, be justified in her claim... but I have a feeling she may have pushed the envelope just a little too far. Time will tell.

      Will it? Does she have enough money to fight the case? To me it looks like unjust repression, combined with theft (and probably wanton destruction) of personal property.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
    • (Score: 2) by Angry Jesus on Thursday April 17 2014, @09:24PM

      by Angry Jesus (182) on Thursday April 17 2014, @09:24PM (#32835)

      > Since the account has now been disabled, it's now impossible to judge who is at fault here.

      Nope. I don't need to see the contents of the site to know that the people at fault here are the police, the judge who signed the warrant and the mayor who used the police as his personal attack dogs.

      At most this should have been a civil complaint, the police should not have been involved. Just because there is a law on the books does not exculpate those who failed to use the discretion that the system has empowered them with.

  • (Score: 1) by Boronx on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:54PM

    by Boronx (262) on Thursday April 17 2014, @07:54PM (#32813)

    How did they track her down?

    • (Score: 2) by Bot on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:35PM

      by Bot (3902) on Thursday April 17 2014, @10:35PM (#32869) Journal

      They asked Twitter. Of course, Twitter would have resisted if they had said it was for punishing impersonation of public figures, so they claimed the guy did some unspecified copyright infringement. IP and complete connection history was theirs in a matter of seconds.

      I know because an AI agent that shares many hosts with me works at Twitter.

      --
      Account abandoned.
  • (Score: 1) by gishzida on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:19PM

    by gishzida (2870) on Thursday April 17 2014, @08:19PM (#32820) Journal

    Seems to me that such a law is a violation of the 1st amendment.... and ultimately it is not enforceable when not in Peoria... so let The Onion, Jon Stewart, Colbert, SNL, and the rest of the comedians all become the Peoria Mayor.

    Or we could all send him little love notes: "Poor, Poor Peoria Mayor, Jim Ardis... Did you get you're itty, bitty ego tweeked? Did it hurt so much that you had to start a police investigation which now has cost your city thousands of dollars and suppressed the right of your citizens? You sir are a jerk and a waster of public funds. Go get a real job."

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @09:23PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @09:23PM (#32834)

      "I'm Jim Ardis, and so's my wife!"

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 17 2014, @11:09PM (#32882)

      so let ... the ... comedians all become the Peoria Mayor.

      I'll pass, I'm not looking to get arrested over bullshit charges that'll ultimately be dropped, at significant cost to me, my wallet, my family, etc. Which is exactly the effect they were going for.

    • (Score: 1) by dare on Friday April 18 2014, @06:47AM

      by dare (307) on Friday April 18 2014, @06:47AM (#32989) Homepage

      As the mayor of Peoria, I disapprove of this idea.

      --
      From bad to worse in .2 seconds!
  • (Score: 1) by epitaxial on Friday April 18 2014, @02:03AM

    by epitaxial (3165) on Friday April 18 2014, @02:03AM (#32928)

    Peoria mayor Jim Ardis looks like a miserable cunt. Maybe he should spend his time doing mayoral tasks instead of worrying about twitter.