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Articles Tagged with first amendment

A Chicago man has been arrested for allegedly putting out a call on social media to loot during the civil unrest that gripped the city last August. James Massey, 22, has been charged with one count of inciting a riot. If convicted, he could face up to five years in federal prison

Calls for Violence Not Protected Under First Amendment

Calls to incite violence against either another person or their property is illegal. The First Amendment does not protect you from making credible, actionable threats, or encouraging others to do the same. The key words here are credible and actionable. If you have the means to carry out the threat or are calling upon others to help you carry out the threat, then you are in violation of laws that have been passed at both the federal and state level. 

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Do we have a First Amendment Right to say anything we want to on social media; to make threats of violence against others, without fear of retribution? Social Media brawls, squabbles, and feuds on Facebook and Twitter, to name a few, are no joke. What often starts out as an innocent “back and forth” between sparring parties can grow ugly when there is a spillover from Facebook to reality; and sometimes that spillover can become deadly.

Facebook and Twitter accounts are now being monitored for possible criminal activities. Both federal, as well as state and local law enforcements have begun to use social media as one of their vehicles in the prevention and the solving of crimes. There have been court rulings that postings on social media sites have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality, therefore, anything you post in social media is accessible without the need for a warrant.

Even so, it has not been settled whether the First Amendment Right applies to threats of crimes of violence or murder on social media. Many social media users hide behind the anonymity of the profiles they create to behave in ways that would be totally unacceptable in the real world.

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There is a safeguard under our First Amendment for political protests. However, that safeguard does not extend to protests that lead to assault and battery (or worse) of other protesters, passersby, police officers, or news reporters.

Most recently, during a political rally in Chicago, for one of the Republican candidates, Donald Trump, a protest erupted. Thousands of protesters and the candidate’s supporters faced off in what started as a mere disagreement in campaign policies and slogans and ended in a “free for all.” In the aftermath of the protests, four people were arrested. One of the protesters faces one count of felony aggravated battery against a police officer and five misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest. If his main purpose for attending the rally was to go to jail, then he succeeded.

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