Online Threats Against Cops Lead to Numerous Arrests

And that's bringing up free-speech concerns
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 13, 2016 4:59 PM CDT
Online Threats Against Cops Lead to Numerous Arrests

People around the country are being arrested for anti-cop social media posts in the wake of last week's violence, and that's raising questions about the limits of free speech. A Connecticut man was charged with inciting injury when he called for the killing of police in a Facebook post, the Intercept reports. An Illinois woman was charged with disorderly conduct for a Facebook post that claimed she would shoot any officer that pulled her over. A New Jersey man was charged with cyber harassment after saying on social media that he'd destroy police headquarters. A Louisiana man was charged with intimidation for a video threatening a police officer. And four men in Detroit were arrested for Facebook posts calling Micah Johnson a "hero" and advocating to "kill all white cops," according to the Detroit News.

“If someone threatens to kill the president, that person would be arrested and prosecuted," Detroit Police Chief James Craig tells the News. "How is it any different when someone threatens to kill white cops?” A Detroit law professor counters: “Posting that kind of thing on social media is a bad thought, but having a bad thought isn’t necessarily a crime.” The Supreme Court says prosecutors must prove online posts are intended as threats and would be seen that way by reasonable people. “Arresting people for speech is something we should be very careful about,” a security technologist at Harvard tells the Intercept. Cops are also getting in trouble on social media after the killings in Dallas. “The only racists here are the piece of shit Black Lives Matter terrorists and their supporters," one Detroit detective posted on Facebook. The Detroit Free Press reports he was demoted to officer and reassigned in response. (More social media stories.)

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