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The Police Raided My Friend's House Over a Parody Twitter Account

janklowjanklow god's lonely man.Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
not that wild about Vice, but here we go:
The Police Raided My Friend's House Over a Parody Twitter Account
Jon Daniel woke up on Thursday morning to a news crew in his living room, which was a welcome change from the company he had on Tuesday night, when the Peoria, Illinois, police came crashing through the door. The officers tore the 28-year-old’s home apart, seizing electronics and taking several of his roommates in for questioning; one woman who lived there spent three hours in an interrogation room. All for a parody Twitter account.

Yes, the cops raided Daniel’s home because they wanted to find out who was behind @peoriamayor, an account that had been shut down weeks ago by Twitter. When it was active, Daniel used it to portray Jim Ardis, the mayor of Peoria, as a weed-smoking, stripper-loving, Midwestern answer to Rob Ford. The account never had more than 50 followers, and Twitter had killed it because it wasn't clearly marked as a parody. It was a joke, a lark—but it brought the police to Daniel's door. The cops even took Daniel and one of his housemates in for in-depth questioning—they showed up at their jobs, cuffed them, and confiscated their phones—because of a bunch of Twitter jokes.

Now Daniel’s panicking.

“I’m going to 🤬 jail,” he told me yesterday when he was on a break from his job as a line cook. “They’re going to haul me away for this 🤬 .”

They might. No one was arrested for Twitter-related charges on Tuesday (though one roommate was pinched for having a few ounces of weed), and no charges have been officially filed yet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be. The media have raised the profile of this incident more than the mayor and police would probably like—there was the news crew at Daniel's house, and a story about the raid appeared in the Los Angeles Times—but who knows if that will shame Ardis into apologizing?

Authorities seem to believe that Daniel was “impersonating a public official,” to use a bit of legalese, a misdemeanor that's punishable by up to a year behind bars. Steve Settingsgaard, the chief of police, has been quoted as saying that “it appears someone went to great lengths to make it appear it was actually from the mayor.” This dastardly impersonation of a 50-something public official included such tweets as:

Peoria is a town of 116,000 people. It has some problems with crime and also some problems with the police, which you can get a sense of if you follow my work or the work of Matt Buedel, the Journal Star crime reporter who broke a several stories last year detailing misconduct within the police department, including an attempt to catch a city councilman in a prostitution sting. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office ruled that an internal report regarding some of those acts of alleged misconduct should be released, but the city and the police department refused. (That report was apparently “lost” by Settingsgaard, and somehow ended up in the hands of a panhandler whom, coincidentally, I used to work at a gas station with and know to be a pretty serious drug addict.)

So the police raid on Daniel’s house wasn’t an isolated incident; it was just another case of the cops acting shady—and naturally, many in this town are raising serious questions and concerns over the use of taxpayer resources and manpower to find out who ran @peoriamayor.

Daniel didn’t confess to the crime when questioned by police. When he told me about the event, his description, like almost everything that comes out of his mouth, was hilarious and delivered in an only-in-Peoria ghetto twang.

“They acted like they were gonna be on some First 48 🤬 ,” he said of the night of the raid while he put back some Busch cans with friends and roommates. “I said, ‘Well, at least let me puff a yig [cigarette] if y’all are gonna sit here and try to break me down.’”

They didn’t. After reading Daniel his rights he chose to lawyer up, and the cops let him go. They took his phone, though, which contains all the evidence they’ll need to tie him to the account, and another he started in a fit of bravado the night after @peoriamayor was shut down. Daniel is also behind @peoriapolice, but that account has been largely inactive. It’s not clear if the real Peoria police know that account exists, but Buedel let its existence be known to his followers last night.

Meanwhile, a host of copycat parody accounts have cropped up, possibly as an act of protest, possibly just to 🤬 with the Peoria power structure further. I’m not sure who’s behind them or if they’re coordinated, but it’s clear that if Ardis sent the cops to Daniel’s home to clamp down on people making fun of him online, that effort failed spectacularly.

Full disclosure: Part of the blame for this situation rests on my shoulders. I loudly promoted @peoriamayor when I first noticed it, having no idea someone I knew was responsible for tweets that mostly had the fake mayor using drugs and partying. It was pretty damn funny. One of Daniel’s roommates told me that the first question police asked him was, “How do you know Justin Glawe?”

As it happens, less than an hour before that query was posed I was at police headquarters, reading reports like I do several times a week. Daniel found that fact funny Tuesday night, but he isn’t laughing anymore. Neither are his roommates, one of whom hasn’t been able to be reached because he’s out of town without a single electronic device. Another is so shaken by the experience of having his room trashed by the cops he wanted nothing to do with this story.

Daniel said 🤬 it.

“Tell them my name. Tell them I did it,” he said, acknowledging the cops have him cornered. “But when they lock me up, tell them to tweet using the hashtag #freesleezyd.”

Comments

  • KLICHEKLICHE Members Posts: 5,061 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited April 2014
    Things are getting out of hand. If indeed real, there are numerous other fake accounts made impersonating others who are "well known" so wonder why they all haven't been shut down and had their "doors kicked in" so to speak.. crazy 🤬 either way

    oh forgot to add..

    #freesleezyd LOL
  • BelovedAfeniBelovedAfeni The Pimp Slap App 5150 NationMembers Posts: 8,647 ✭✭✭✭✭
    its happening
  • [Deleted User][Deleted User] Posts: 0 Regulator
    The user and all related content has been deleted.
  •   Colin$mackabi$h Colin$mackabi$h Smartass Snatch Money ave.Members Posts: 16,586 ✭✭✭✭✭
    He should of handled them like mad dog off the raid: redemption.
  • Meta_ConsciousMeta_Conscious Hypocrite The BashmentMembers Posts: 26,227 ✭✭✭✭✭
    ppl should be upset.
  • kingblaze84kingblaze84 Bronx, NY birthplace of hip-hopMembers Posts: 14,288 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Hopefully America isn't turning into a North Korea or China now? SMH
  • janklowjanklow god's lonely man. Members, Moderators Posts: 8,613 Regulator
    further hilarious update:
    Peoria Mayor Thinks Outrage Over City’s Raid on Twitter Parodist Is Everybody’s Fault Except His
    When Peoria, Illinois, Mayor Jim Ardis responded to a parody Twitter account by calling out the police, the story quickly went wide nationally, and he became the butt of even more jokes and additional parody accounts.

    He regrets nothing, though, and seems to think a parody of him violates his right to free speech. His response and the subsequent police raid became a big issue at Tuesday night’s city council meeting. A Peoria Journal Star reporter was in attendance:

    "I still maintain my right to protect my identity is my right," Ardis said in an interview with the Journal Star before the council meeting.

    "Are there no boundaries on what you can say, when you can say it, who you can say it to?" Ardis said. "You can’t say (those tweets) on behalf of me. That’s my problem. This guy took away my freedom of speech."

    Perhaps his stated concern about the profane nature of the tweets makes him unfamiliar with the seminal Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell Supreme Court decision that parody is a protected form of free speech. No doubt a man as pure and clean as him would never touch an issue of Hustler or read anything about it. But anyway, he has it exactly backward, and everybody seems to get it except for him and his local police department. Even the Peoria City Council members appeared a bit aghast at his behavior, the subsequent raid, and the unrelated drug arrest that resulted, especially when the story went national.

    [Council member Jim] Montelongo said the episode represented an abuse of Ardis’ authority, as well as the police department’s.

    "There was too much power of force used on these pranksters," said Montelongo, the 4th District councilman. "It made it look like the mayor received preferential treatment that other people don’t get or will never get."

    Ardis, though, has decided to blame the media:

    Ardis said the situation provides an opportunity to discuss the proper limits of commentary on social media. He also said the news media is responsible, in part, for the problem.

    "You’re the ones responsible for getting full information, but not to spin it in the way you want to spin it," Ardis said to a Journal Star reporter. "To make us look stupid."

    "It’s your responsibility to put actual information out there and cover both sides. Not to opine. And that didn’t happen. Clearly, that didn’t happen."

    Clearly, that didn’t happen. So in the spirit of Ardis’ complaint, I hope he clicks on the link to the Hustler case above so he can avoid future situations where the media makes him look stupid for being a person in a position of power who apparently knows very little about the First Amendment.

    UPDATE: State's Attorney Jerry Brady said today the originator of the parody account will not face charges and furthermore said that the fake tweets are not violations of the state's law against impersonating public officials.
    that said, it IS a good thing that the parody account will not face charges.
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