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SWAT Raids for Parody Twitter Accounts? Sure, Why Not? SWAT Raids for Everybody!

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Mayor Jim Ardis, douchebag.
Peoria Mayor's Office

Back in May, the mayor of Peoria, Illinois, put himself on the map by pushing police to raid the home of a person who had created a parody Twitter account that mocked him. The fake account made him appear to be a profane druggie (in other words, interesting). It was obviously not him, and police ultimately did not charge the guy, Jon Daniel, with any crimes, but they did arrest Jacob Elliot at the home for marijuana possession.

Elliot's attorney is trying to get the case tossed out and the warrant declared invalid. The judge just declined last week, determining that the police did have probable cause to search the home because it was the address where the computer that made the parody account was located. According to the Journal Star in Peoria, the judge is, however, skeptical of the police looking under a pillow and closet in Elliot's room for their search for technology to tweet with, which is where they found his stash. The judge is going to make the police explain why they searched there in October, so it's still possible that the judge may suppress the evidence itself. The police did not have a warrant to search for drugs, just things related to pretending to be a very naughty mayor.

As for the raid itself, Freedom of Information requests got journalists copies of the e-mails between Mayor Jim Ardis and the Peoria police. Despite the judge ruling the raid and warrant valid, the police told Ardis in clear terms prior to the raid that no crimes had been committed. The police knew going in that the raid was bogus, went through with it anyway, and a judge upheld the warrant for probable cause. There's a joke about how a grand jury will convict indict a ham sandwich, but is there a similar joke about how a judge will approve a search warrant for just about anything?

Meanwhile the American Civil Liberties Union is suing Peoria and Ardis on behalf of Daniel over the absurd abuse of the man and his home.

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  1. How very Stasi like that we now raid peoples homes for making fun of one of the ruling class.

    1. Obama and 90% of congress approve

      1. More like 99.99% of congress (3/535 = .005).

        Technically correct is the best correct 😛

        1. Ok, now that’s depressing..

  2. The cops knew that what they were doing was illegal and they did it anyway? I’m shocked. Or something.

    1. At least some of the other Twitter accounts mocking the mayor of Peoria might also be illegal, because the New York Court of Appeals’ decision in a recent case has made it perfectly clear that deadpan, electronically conveyed satire can be criminalized in the United States. To avoid arrest, the authors of these tweets need, at a minimum, to overtly state that they are engaged in parody, otherwise they risk crossing the line into criminal deceit. And let’s not hear any “First Amendment” baloney, everybody knows this is a crime and there are limits to this “Internet freedom” junk. See the documentation of America’s leading criminal-satire case, including the New York Court of Appeals’ decision, at:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  3. the police did have probable cause to search the home because it was the address where the computer that made the parody account was located.

    I thought it was probable cause that a crime had been committed. What crime was being investigated here?

    the police told Ardis in clear terms prior to the raid that no crimes had been committed.

    I haz a confuse.

    1. I’m going to guess (though I’m not certain) the judge was not shown the e-mails indicating the police saying the parody account didn’t constitute impersonation of a public official.

      1. Which judge are we talking about?

      2. That’s probably true, but one would expect that a judge would know for himself that parodying a public official is not a crime. In other words, he should know enough of the law to recognize a First Amendment right when he sees one. And also that warrants are only supposed to be issued when there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed.

        Judges aren’t supposed to simply rubber stamp warrants. They are interposed into the process for a reason. This one is demonstrably incompetent.

    2. Apparently you haven’t read the FYTW clause.

      1. Hell, I doubt they’d even go that far in justifying it and say “Because”.

    3. What crime was being investigated here?

      False personation. Of course, such laws raise various constitutional issues.

      1. the police told Ardis in clear terms prior to the raid that no crimes had been committed.

  4. Meanwhile the American Civil Liberties Union is suing Peoria and Ardis on behalf of Daniel over the absurd abuse of the man and his home.

    Say what you will about the ACLU’s politics, they do, at times, do good work.

    I’d love to see a libertarian version. (Sad that they aren’t.)

    1. I’d love to see a libertarian version. (Sad that they aren’t.)

      They’d immediately be labeled by the left and their sociopath media of being racists, sexists, nazis, etc., etc….

      1. They’d immediately be labeled by the left and their sociopath media of being racists, sexists, nazis, etc., etc….

        So? Sticks and stones…

        1. I guess I left out the part where they get audited by the IRS and investigated by the CIA.

        2. Obviously you haven’t been the victim of a SWAT raid for setting up a parody twitter account!

    2. The ACLU is representing a couple around here who were illegally arrested and jailed for legally filming some cops who didn’t want to be filmed. The article I read was unclear as to if the department or the individual police are being sued. Either way it looks like at best a payday. Personally I’d like to see cops go to prison for that shit.

    3. The Institute for Justice does some very good work.

      Their casework has an explicitly libertarian orientation, and focuses on economic liberty, private property rights, school choice and 1A.

      1. There are also a number of libertarian-leaning state organizations, such as the Goldwater Institute that also litigate. Here in Idaho, the Idaho Freedom Foundation and the ACLU of Idaho (with some help from FIRE) teamed up to convince Boise State to revise its speech and event policies (http://idahofreedom.org/bsu_yal/).

        Unfortunately, even when good things like this happen, the mainstream media (on both sides of the aisle) often ignore it because it doesn’t solely benefit their preferred party.

  5. The judge just declined last week, determining that the police did have probable cause to search the home because it was the address where the computer that made the parody account was located.

    Once the police are on the scene, OFFICER SAFETY makes it imperative that a thorough sweep be conducted for weapons and contraband. The Fourth Amendment clearly allows this; ask Scalia.

  6. In other douchebag news:

    Obama wants bans on ‘certain types’ of travel

    Nothing could possibly go wrong, this could never be abused.

    /the gubmint

    1. Where does he keep the federal mind readers capable of discerning the intent of travelers??

      1. That will be up to the TOP MEN assigned to use their discretion.

      2. The right people can read minds, or at least many of their arguments presuppose that they can.

      3. The TSA’s Behavior Detection Officers. Sure, there’s zero evidence that it works, their actual hit rate is less than random chance, and the GAO says it’s worthless… but dammit, DHS still believes!

  7. I don’t know if it is true or not, but I heard that this Mayor Jim Ardis has raped children of both sexes and that he collects child porn. Perhaps the police should search his home and office for evidence of these rumored crimes?

    1. Well he definitely has not won over the ovine vote with his antics:

      http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ac5_1410994720

      That is him. Really.

  8. Nice work on the alt-text, Scott, but I would have gone with “thin-skinned douchebag”.

    1. “thin-skinned douchebag”

      That particular alt-text has been reserved for dear leader.

  9. …the judge is, however, skeptical of the police looking under a pillow and closet in Elliot’s room for their search for technology to tweet with, which is where they found his stash.

    Smartphones can be found anywhere. Bend over.

    1. Smartphones, Google glasses, even a Bluetooth headset no larger than a dime could be used with voice-recognition software on a device to post to Twitter.

      In reality,malice should be granted blanket subpoenas on society in general to ensure they can search any and all areas where these devices could be concealed. Just like the Patriot Act intended…

  10. The police did not have a warrant to search for drugs, just things related to pretending to be a very naughty mayor.

    The devil weed made them do it.

    duh.

  11. How does one secure consent from sheep to engage in sex with them? I’m not asking because I think Jim Ardis is a sheep rapist if he has not secured enthusiastic consent at every step in his interaction with sheep. I’m just curious in case other elected officials are reading this and wish to avoid the “rapist” label for when they engage in sheep-fuckery.

    1. Shit! I should have refreshed before I posted above. Your lead in is much more apropos of this video.

      It shows the dangers of not getting explicit consent before molesting your ovine date.

  12. There’s a joke about how a grand jury will convict a ham sandwich, but is there a similar joke about how a judge will approve a search warrant for just about anything?

    It is well past time for such judges to be named and shamed. Seriously. Whenever a judge issues a stupid warrant, a false warrant, a warrant for a no-knock to the wrong address, a no-knock that results in the maiming and/or murder of children, innocent bystanders, unarmed residents, and their dogs, a warrant to anally rape travelers, etc., the media should name the judge, ask why the named judge made his faulty decision, and question whether he is competent to make such decisions in the future.

    The Reason article only refers to “the judge” without disclosing the worthless POS’ name.

    Remember the TV show The Wire just a few years back. The judge character was portrayed as being cautious in his issuance of warrants, even for surveillance. How quaint.

  13. Thank you for posting this, which is police abuse, unlike the recent “I was having sex in a car with my boyfriend and refused to show the police my ID” story and far too many others.

  14. According to the Journal Star in Peoria, the judge is, however, skeptical of the police looking under a pillow and closet in Elliot’s room for their search for technology to tweet with, which is where they found his stash

    Well that’s stupid. The judge justifies the SWAT raid on its own merits, but questions the search under a pillow because you can’t hide tweet-worthy tech under a pillow. Yes you can. It’s called a smart phone, I hear all the young people are using them.

    This is the level of stupid we’re now dealing with. Doors kicked in, fingers on triggers while a team of military personnel shout a string of expletives telling everyone to get the fuck on the ground or get their head blown off: A OK!

    But you peeked under a pillow and there’s NO technology in the world that you could send a tweet from under a pillow: Move to ‘questionable’ column.

    1. wanna-be military personnel

      FTFY

  15. In most American counties with more than 5 Judges there is one who will grant any warrant application. Judges have “absolute immunity” and a warrant based on police lies is still valid. And you thought the magistrate review requirement meant something!

    1. Judges, prosecutors, cops, jailers, politicians and public defenders are all on the same team. The goal is to fill the jails and roust, search, raid and harass the biggest number of unpopular people as possible while avoiding any punishment to the favored group. They all push the law as close to the line as possible and since there’s no downside to crossing the line, that’s way too far.

  16. Sometimes I have to remind myself why I go to this site.
    It is so I can see how stupid/disingenuous some “libertarians” (actually anarchists) can be, including the authors of the articles.
    Here’s a clue:
    Whether you call it a parody, or satire, opening an on-line account in someone else’s name and “confessing” to illegal, or unethical, behavior is NOT protected by the First Amendment.
    And for the police to attempt to find evidence of who committed this offense is not unconstitutional, but their job.
    As for “the police told Ardis in clear terms prior to the raid that no crimes had been committed”, the correct statement should be “someone at the police department said that, in their opinion, no crimes had been committed”. Fortunately, the police are not the final word on if a crime has been committed, or not.

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