(NewsReady.com) – In the United States, the Constitution protects one’s right to free speech, giving people the right to create social media posts and websites that share their opinion on various matters. However, sometimes, rhetoric goes too far for First Amendment protections. This was on display in a recent lawsuit that ended with the removal of a Twitter account.
Steven Sutcliffe runs a website that calls for people to murder cops and had a Twitter handle to promote it: @killercop1984. The Los Angeles Police Protective League sued Sutcliffe after discovering that his website listed photos of LAPD officers with “bounties” attached to them. He even promoted killing detectives and female officers by offering double the rewards.
Last month, the LAPD released — on a records request — the names of its 9,300 officers to a watchdog agency, which then created a searchable database and posted all of the images online. According to the Los Angeles Times, this list accidentally included the names and images of undercover officers, which created a real safety situation. The killer cop website capitalized on this information and used it to allegedly incite violence against members of the police force. One such post read, “Clean head-shots on these #LAPD officers. A to Z.” Following the notice of the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of Officers Douglas Panameno, Adam Gross, and Adrian Rodriguez, Twitter then suspended the website’s account.
Twitter suspended the account of an anti-police website for violating the social media platform's rules against inciting violence after a LA police union sued the website's owner for offering a "bounty" for allegedly slaying police.
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The officers are alleging emotional distress from having their pictures posted online with such obvious threats. Sutcliffe has called the lawsuit “malicious” and his Twitter suspension a violation of his First Amendment rights.
This isn’t the first time Sutcliffe has been accused of inciting threats or violence. In 2003, he faced a similar charge in federal court for posting online threats toward a company: Global Crossing Ltd. It turns out that he had been fired twice from the fiber optics company.
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