Police Departments Can Be Sued For Deleting Comments?

Does Texas have the same laws about cops deleting content as Hawaii? Gee, I sure hope so! Hahaa

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Source: my friend Thomas

After two years of litigation, a Honolulu Federal Court is ordering the Honolulu Police Department to pay $31K in attorneys fees to Second Amendment activists who sued alleging First Amendment violations after the HPD allegedly removed plaintiffs Facebook comments from an HPD Facebook page.

Here is the background and an excerpt from the Court order:

From Hawaii Defense Foundation, August 21, 2012

Today in the Federal District Court of Hawaii, the Hawaii Defense Foundation has filed a lawsuit for violations of the First Amendment. The Defendants in this case are the City and County of Honolulu and a Honolulu Police Officer, Capt. Andrew Lum.

The complaint filed in the United States District Court by attorneys Richard Holcomb, Alan Beck, and Brian Brazier alleges that the Honolulu Police unlawfully administer their Facebook Fan page in violation of American citizen’s right to free speech. The complaint asserts that the Honolulu police arbitrarily moderate the page by deleting comments and banning users who post or make comments unfavorable to the department. The complaint further asserts that online speech is just as important as a citizen airing their grievance in a public park – just because the speech is virtual, doesn’t mean it is not protected.

From Order of Federal Judge J Michael Seabright, June 19, 2014

II. BACKGROUND

On August 21, 2012, Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendants City and County of Honolulu (the “City”) and Andrew Lum (collectively, “Defendants”) alleging violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments when Plaintiffs’ posts to the Honolulu Police Department’s social media page on Facebook.com were removed and Plaintiffs were blocked from making further posts. Doc. No. 1, Compl. at 1, 11-13. That same day, Plaintiffs also filed a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and a Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which sought to restore Plaintiffs’ deleted posts, permit Plaintiffs to post to the HPD’s page, and prohibit Defendants from banning people or removing posts based on political content.

Following several status conferences, Defendants agreed to develop a policy, through negotiations with Plaintiffs’ proxy, the American Civil Liberties Union, governing public posting on HPD’s Facebook page. Accordingly, the court deemed the Motions for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction moot. Thereafter, the parties engaged in settlement negotiations, reaching an agreement in principle by January 2013, but failing to resolve the form of dismissal documents and issues regarding payment of Plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs.

Link: Hawaii Defense Foundation

Background: HPD Sued Over ‘Censorship’ of Facebook Comments

Fast forward to today and go try it out for yourself. Go to the Waco PD Facebook page and leave a comment about Twin Peaks and see how quick Swanton deletes it. I have sat and messed with him for hours at a time making him delete what I say all day long. It’s amazing what a person can get paid $73,213 a year to do all day every day, isn’t it?

Source: Patrick Swanton and Waco Police Department Facebook Page

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4 Responses to “Police Departments Can Be Sued For Deleting Comments?”

  1. I would think if Texas were in the United States of America it would have the same laws governing the Constitution. It’s just a crazy thought of mine. We have seen what Waco thinks of the Constitution though.

  2. I have not only had my comments deleted from McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna Facebook I have been banned from posting on it BS

  3. […] Police Departments Can Be Sued For Deleting Comments? “The complaint filed in the United States District Court by attorneys Richard Holcomb, Alan Beck, and Brian Brazier alleges that the Honolulu Police unlawfully administer their Facebook Fan page in violation of American citizen’s right to free speech. The complaint asserts that the Honolulu police arbitrarily moderate the page by deleting comments and banning users who post or make comments unfavorable to the department. The complaint further asserts that online speech is just as important as a citizen airing their grievance in a public park – just because the speech is virtual, doesn’t mean it is not protected.” […]

  4. […] Police Departments Can Be Sued For Deleting Comments? “The complaint filed in the United States District Court by attorneys Richard Holcomb, Alan Beck, and Brian Brazier alleges that the Honolulu Police unlawfully administer their Facebook Fan page in violation of American citizen’s right to free speech. The complaint asserts that the Honolulu police arbitrarily moderate the page by deleting comments and banning users who post or make comments unfavorable to the department. The complaint further asserts that online speech is just as important as a citizen airing their grievance in a public park – just because the speech is virtual, doesn’t mean it is not protected.” […]

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