April 30, 2014
Political humor has been around since the beginning of politics and only under despotism is it ever met with force.
The case can be made that the USA is under a certain level of tyranny and Mayor Jim Ardis gives credence to that statement.
In Peoria, IL, Mayor Ardis did not like the fact that someone setup a fake Twitter account — @peoriamayor — which was used to mock him.
As the Peoria Journal Star reports, the account was suspended by Twitter several weeks ago. This happened even though it had reportedly been labeled, at some point, as a parody account.
In total, the account had emitted around 50 tweets. However, for reasons best known to those in officialdom, as many as seven police officers descended on a house, claimed to have a warrant, and took away a number of phones and computers.
Three people were questioned (two were arrested at their workplaces). Only one was charged, but even this charge had nothing to do with the Twitter account. Instead, 36-year-old Jacob Elliott was charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
One resident of the house, 27-year-old Michelle Pratt, told the Journal Star: “They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it.”
She said she’d been treated like a criminal.
Here’s the facts:
- He mocked Mayor Ardis at first without making it clear it was satire. A mistake was listing the mayor’s actual email and the city’s web site. He had crossed the line into impersonation with that. And Twitter shut him down.
- This raid happened after the account had been shut down by Twitter, even after it had been labeled a parody account.
- The police arrested roommates at their place of work too. On nothing.
What real crime was committed? The Peoria Police Chief, Steve Settingsgaard, told the paper that those questioned were under investigation for impersonating a public official, a misdemeanor that could incite up to a year in jail.
However, the twitter account was purely satirical.
The fact that a Mayor can send a SWAT team to someone’s house that mocked him online, is disturbing to say the least.
As of yet, this overt abuse of power has yet to be punished. In fact Ardis is completely unapologetic about having a swarm of cops descend on an otherwise innocent person’s residence.
“I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right,” Ardis said in an interview.