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Vice-president: Jeff Johnson
Secretary and Newsletter Editor: Terry Matthews
Treasurer: Bernard Hickey
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Site updated: July 15, 2017
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Peoria Chapter, ACLU of Illinois, By-laws
PJ-Star Reports on lack of abortion service
availability in Central Illinois
PEORIA, IL -- American Civil Liberties Union lawyers on March 9, 2016, won round one in its federal lawsuit against the city of Peoria in the Twittergate case.
Judge Michael Mihm refused the city's motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
"Our client gets his day in court," said ACLU Illinois spokesman Ed Yohnka, after the hearing ended.
There were no sparks in the hour long hearing before Judge Mihm. There was a lot of talk about the city's idea that the Twitter site, a parody of Peoria mayor Jim Ardis, fell under the state's law against impersonating a public official.
The lawyers and judge discussed whether police had probable cause to enter the resident of plaintiff Jon Daniel, search his house, seize his electronic equipment, and detain him at the police station, all based on impersonating the mayor by posting a parody site on Twitter.
Mihm did not seem to be buying that argument. The basic issue is free speech under the US Constitution.
Without microphones, much of the hearing was difficult to hear, but Mihm's ruling was crystal clear. Now discovery will take place, and who knows what juicy information will be forthcoming.
Mihm also mentioned the word 'settlement,' and his ruling might spur settlement talks. The city, with its budget in the red, as of mid January had spent almost $58,000 in legal fees, according to documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. A waste of taxpayer dollars?
1st and 4th Amendment Issues in Peoria
Original details below, for updates go here
On April 15, 2014, Peoria police raided a residence to find out who had posted a parody site on Twitter that made fun of Peoria mayor Jim Ardis, and prosecute that person for "impersonating a public official."
There was a tiny problem: under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, a parody Twitter site is protected as free speech. Under the 4th Amendment, there was no reason to issue the search warrant in the first place.
In other words, it’s not illegal to make fun of the mayor, no matter how awful the things that are said. And parodies are not constitutional grounds to issue search warrants.
Three local judges signed search warrants, and likely the States Attorney gave permission for the raid to take place; he has denied this allegation.
The police turned the house upside down, seized all electronic equipment, and detained the occupants. The police found marijuana, and one occupant admitted it was his. He was arrested.
With the ensuing uproar, the States Attorney dropped the Twitter parody charges, but the marijuana charge remains against the man who admitted possession, and who had no relationship to the Twitter account. He is free on bail, with a court hearing set for May 15.
Last June, ACLU National released a report on the state of the war on marijuana in the US, and the vast racial disparities in arrest rates for marijuana possession. While blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, in Illinois blacks are 7.6 times more likely than whites to be arrested for possession - one of the highest rates in the country. Several Illinois counties – including Champaign and Peoria counties, have even higher disparities.
Download the whole report (pdf):
Download the 1-pager on Illinois:
Here’s a link to a 2009 national ACLU report, Illinois is on page 51.
This material could be used for letters to the editor or op-ed pieces.
JD Wheeler Memorial Project
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Links to webites or articles of interest to ACLU members (found by the webmaster or forwarded from members & friends)
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