Following the Dallas shootings, police are now arresting people for criticizing cops on social media.
Four men in Detroit were arrested this week for posts on social media that the police called threatening. In fact, one tweet that led to an arrest said that Micah Johnson, the man who shot and killed police officers in Dallas last week was a hero. None of the men have been named, nor have they been charged but, shows a new era in policing in America.
According to the Intercept, Detroit Police Chief James Craig told reporters, I know this is a new issue, but I want these people charged with crime." Craig added, Ive directed my officers to prepare warrants for these four individuals, and well see which venue is the best to pursue charges."
Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock.com
It's important to keep in mind that five police officers were killed in the Dallas shootings, the most since September 11th and as a result, law enforcement officials across the nation are more sensitive to comments about police officers. However, the arrest is sparking controversy especially among free speech advocates. Arresting people for speech is something we should be very careful about, Bruce Schneier of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, told The Intercept
The four people have been arrested for saying a wide array of comments such as Micah Johnson was a hero, to allegedly threatening a police officer. These men and women have been charged with crimes ranging from inciting injury to persons or property to public intimidation.
antb / Shutterstock.com
Certainly, posting that kind of thing on social media is a bad thought, professor Larry Dubin of the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law told the Detroit News
. But having a bad thought isnt necessarily a crime.
But, is this legal? As The Intercept pointed out, the Supreme Court set a precedent
last year when it ruled that prosecutors pursing a charge of communicating threats need to prove both that reasonable people would view the statement as a threat and that the intent was to threaten. However, Elonis v. United States
dealt with a man who had posted violent rap lyrics about his estranged wife and the court reversed his conviction.
What will this mean for the future of police and social media? Well, a simple retweet, comment, or share could land you a couple of months in jail, if you're not too careful.
You can read the full report here
What do you think? Share with us your thoughts in the comments below.