Police

St. Louis Cops Claim Free-Speech Right to Warn Employers About Your Tweets They Don't Like

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inventorchris2/Flickr

Leigh Maibes is a St. Louis-based real estate agent. Unrelatedly, Maibes has been actively tweeting—under the alias @stacksizshort—about recent events in nearby Ferguson, Missouri. But when some of her criticisms of area police tactics offended Officer Keith Novara, he called Maibes' employers to tattle on her. 

In a conversation Maibes recorded and posted to YouTube, Novara admits to calling and texting her boss to warn about her Twitter activity. "Yeah I was just letting the city businessmen know, in the city, that if their phones were blowing up that's what it was from," Novara says. 

But if her employers' phones were blowing up because of her Twitter activity, wouldn't they already be aware of this? Considering that Novara is a 21st century human being who ostensibly understands how phones work, his rationale reeks of bullshit.

Maybe Novara was hoping to get Maibes in trouble. Maybe he was just trying to stop her from further tweeting. But whatever his aspirational outcome, calling in his official capacity as a St. Louis police offer to inform Maibes' boss of her completely legal, unrelated-to-work activity seems an awful lot like criminal intimidation and harassment

The video (below) of Maibes' call with Novara is both infuriating and wryly amusing as he offers a litany of vague and nonsensical justifications. He was compelled to act, you see, because of her "inciteful" tweets, which were contrary to "the neighborhood ownership model". He doesn't "understand what (her) point is," because he "was not in violation of any law." 

"It doesn't constitute police harassment or intimidation to stop my activism work?" asks Maibes.

"No, not at all," Novara responds. In fact, it's Maibes who should be ashamed, really. "You think that your tweets were appropriate and everything is fine then as far as what you say against police and all that?" he asks.

Maibes filed a formal complaint, and Novara has since been placed under investigation (though not suspended) by the St. Louis Police Department, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He's being represented by the St. Louis Police Officers Association, which insists Novara's actions were protected First Amendment speech.

"The Association has hired an attorney that specializes in First Amendment rights to represent Officer Novara," said the union's business manager, Jeff Roorda, in a chilling statement. Roorda continued: 

It is confounding to us as an organization of law enforcement professionals that apologists for the so-called 'peaceful protestors' in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood defend throwing bricks, bottles and rocks at police officers as 'freedom of speech or freedom of expression'. Then, those very same people feign righteous indignation when a police officer who is fed up with the corrosive, anti-police rhetoric that this particular agitator has made in a public forum on social media, exercises his freedom of speech and freedom of expression in a truly peaceful manner.

(…) Police Officers are not second-class citizens. They enjoy First Amendment rights and every other right that is enjoyed by every other citizens and we will aggressively defend those rights to our last breath. 

This is clearly a First Amendment issue, just not in the way the police union seems to think it is. Lawyer and blogger Scott Greenfield notes that "wearing a badge doesn't forfeit the free speech of the person," and had Novara merely called Maibes' employer as a griping citizen it would be a different matter. But that's not what he did. Greenfield continues:

Rather, (the call) came from Police Officer Keith Novara, and the speech of a person who presents himself in his official governmental capacity is no longer the individual's free speech, but the official person's speech. And the latter is not free.

(…)Novara's "exercise" of free speech, behind his official capacity as a police officer, was clearly intended as intimidation. 

"If a government actor is retaliating against someone who is engaged in First Amendment activity, that is not lawful," Jeffrey Mittman, executive director for the ACLU of Missouri, told the Post-Dispatch.

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  1. Free speech or not, he should be fired. But since he won’t, this gets to look like something that needs to be debated.

    1. Now, now, Suge. hang on and “Dunphy” will be along to explain why this is all good and right and holy, and how the cop should get a bonus instead of a jail sentence for this.

      Because due process. Boo. yah.

  2. Protect Retaliate and Serve Intimidate

    1. One of the greatest subversive twists of our time was making the Prowl character into Barricade, epitomizing the modern societal shift from trusting the police to seeing them as psychopathic robots bent on punishment and enslavement.

      /overly analyzing Transformers.

      While I am joking…tell me there isn’t a hint of truth.

      1. Hunh. I never realised Barricade was a revamp of Prowl.

  3. Let the lawsuits begin.

  4. “(…) Police Officers are not second-class citizens.”

    No shit. Thanks to their immunity, I’d say they probably rank above first-class citizens, too.

  5. What a pussy of a cop.

  6. How did Novara associate @stacksizshort with Leigh Maibes?

    1. That was my first question upon reading this.

      1. If you watch the video, it becomes clear they knew each other from the neighborhood and her work on the historical preservation society there. And she does use her real photo on her Twitter account.

        1. Ah, OK. I couldn’t WTFV so I didn’t see that. Well, at least he didn’t do something infuriatingly creepily illegal to get her real identity and then also not be punished for that. Look, there’s a bright side! Yay!

          1. There’s a picture on Facebook of her with a black guy. This means the police can at least wing her and get away with it, right?

            1. Yes, but because she’s white, he has to be yelling “stop resisting” when he shoots her. Those are the rules.

              1. I just can’t sympathize with someone named “Leigh.”

                1. How about Leighton?

  7. I imagine the call went something like “One of your employees has been pissing off me and my fellow baboons with badges. On an unrelated note, nice business you got there…”

  8. “apologists for the so-called ‘peaceful protestors’ in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood defend throwing bricks, bottles and rocks at police officers as ‘freedom of speech or freedom of expression’. Then, those very same people”

    Ah, the “very same people” trope.

    OK, I’d like to see evidence that (a) *anyone* claimed throwing bricks, etc. is free expression and that (b) any of these people are at the forefront of criticizing the cop’s intimidation tactics.

  9. Maybe Novara was hoping to get Maibes in trouble.

    Progtard Logic 101: I don’t like what you say, so rather than construct an argument about why your position is wrong, I’m going to try and fuck up your livelihood.

    1. I don’t know if the cop is a progressive, he just seems like a power hungry piece of shit bully to me. Like most cops.

      1. …a power hungry piece of shit bully…

        Amazing how you’ve managed to capture their mentality with such brevity.

      2. If he’s a power hungry piece of shit bully, then he’s already 80% of the way there.

        All he needs to do is pick up the current SJW cant, and he can be a fully-fledged progtard.

        1. No, proggies are just a subset of power hungry piece of shit bullies. There are some who are conservative and some who are non-political.

  10. OT, main post at Huffpo right now:

    Economists Say We Should Tax The Rich At 90 Percent

    All Americans, including the rich, would be better off if top tax rates went back to Eisenhower-era levels when the top federal income tax rate was 91 percent, according to a new working paper by Fabian Kindermann from the University of Bonn and Dirk Krueger from the University of Pennsylvania.

    The top tax rate that makes all citizens, including the highest 1 percent of earners, the best off is “somewhere between 85 and 90 percent,” Krueger told The Huffington Post. Currently, the top rate of 39.6 percent is paid on income above $406,750 for individuals and $457,600 for couples.

    1. I forget, what were the tax receipts like when the top rate was 91%?

      1. The paper assumes that tax rates won’t stop a future Bill Gates from wanting to start Microsoft. Instead, what it finds is that labor supply among the 1 percent would decline — translation, they would work a little less — but it “does not collapse.” That’s because of who the authors assume makes up the top income bracket: celebrities, sports stars, and entrepreneurs — people with innate talents that are hugely rewarding, but only for a short period of time. They only have a few years to use their skills to make most of the money they will ever make. High tax rates don’t lessen their degree of desire to be productive, the authors said.

        Doesn’t matter, this time the assumptions are what counts.

        1. Anybody want to check with France to see how an extraordinarly high top tax rate is working out for them? And they didn’t even go to 90%.

          1. Anybody want to check with France to see how an extraordinarly high top tax rate is working out for them? And they didn’t even go to 90%.

            We’ve tried to reach Gerard Depardieu, but his phone just rings, no voicemail or anything.

        2. This is wrong on so many levels I can’t begin to start.

          But, here’s a try.

          the top income bracket: celebrities, sports stars, and entrepreneurs This is just idiotic. You can effectively ignore the first two categories. Our economy is not driven by Kobe Bryant and Kim Kardashian. And if Kindermann and Krueger think they do, they should turn in their PhDs and apologize to their students for wasting their time. And their entire argument of “hugely rewarding, but only for a short period of time” applies to the celebrities and sports stars, not the entrepreneurs who drive the economy. Entrepreneurship isn’t exactly a depleting source of human capital. Perhaps most importantly it entirely misreads the nature of entrepreneurial human capital. Risk taking is vastly more important than direct labor contribution. The risk of a 90% tax rate isn’t that Bill Gates won’t work as hard. It’s that the next Bill Gates will decide that the relative reward isn’t worth dropping out of Harvard and securing a nice job in middle management or the bureaucracy to give up his entire youth on the next Microsoft.

          Really, this is just retarded.

      2. And what performance metrics do they use to come up with this definition of “better off?”

    2. Yep! Because there’s nothing worse than rich people investing their ill-gotten gains into capital to be used to create more wealth! If they do this then they may provide more goods and services while creating new jobs! Oh, the horror! We must take that money away from them and use it to pay government salaries!

      1. That’s simply the 1%’s sneaky way to make more profits without doing anything!

    3. “Economists”

      1. Two of them!

  11. This link has a screenshot of the texts he sent to her employer before the call.

    And a picture of the scumbag.

    1. Oh wow, I hadn’t seen those…

      1. I really would like some more context on the first text. Sort of sounds like her employer ratted her out.

  12. Reminds me of former San Francisco columnist Harley Sorensen. I wrote an comment to one of his columns and the POS threatened to tell the non-profit I worked for and all of their major funders what I was doing on company time. As if people don’t take lunch or breaks. I immediately informed his editors of the threat by forwarding it to them. POS.

    1. Some cats ain’t happy unless they’re gagging on some pig’s dick….

  13. Now c’mon guys, I have been repeatedly assured that cops are working class heroes who don’t use their power to abuse or harass the citizens. So don’t believe your lying eyes when you see the texts.

  14. So what happened? Did Novara’s employer (hopefully) tell him to go pound sand?

    1. Sorry, meant Maibes’s employer.

      1. I liked it better the first way.

  15. It’s too bad only a small percentage of the population ever sees these stories. If would be great if there was Cops Behaving Badly primetime TV show that details all of these types of bullying behavior. I’m afraid unfortunately that not only would the show be bullied iff the air within a week, a vast percentage of the population would still take the cops side no matter hiw egregous the behavior.

    1. What’s interest is I what one of those shows about chick cops in maricova county. It was like a top ten show. In at least 9 of the 10 situations the cops grossly overreacted. Probably the 10th as well but that one was on the line so I gave them that. It was ridulas really.

      1. Maricopa. Ridiculas.

    2. What are you talking about? There’s COPS, Alaska State Troopers, North Woods Law, and a host of other programs that follow compliance enforcement officers as they go around bullying and intimidating anyone they come into contact with.

  16. Maybe Novara was hoping to get Maibes in trouble. Maybe he was just trying to stop her from further tweeting. But whatever his aspirational outcome, calling in his official capacity as a St. Louis police offer to inform Maibes’ boss of her completely legal, unrelated-to-work activity seems an awful lot like criminal intimidation and harassment.

    He was frustrated. There was no victim per se. He was just shooting his gun into the dirt.

  17. Don’t forget that union mouthpiece, Jeff Roorda, is a statehouse rep in Missouri and is running for the state Senate this election cycle. He’s also a former cop and critical of body cameras, even before the Michael Brown incident:

    http://blogs.riverfronttimes.c…..s_safe.php

  18. “You think that your tweets were appropriate and everything is fine then as far as what you say against police and all that?”

    The real criminal is whoever taught this cop English as a kid.

  19. Imo, the crux of the issue was making the call in his official capacity

    Note, he could do so while off duty, and even identifying himself AS a police officer, as long as he makes it clear he is not making the call in his official capacity.

    I’ll be interested to see how the case plays out

    I’ve written editorials identifying myself as a LEO, as well as strength training articles, but those were not in official capacity, and that is the issue imo

    Heck, taking you could decide to engage in this practice in mass and again as long as the individual representatives were not acting in official capacity and on duty it would not be a issue as far as their absolute right to do so

  20. It is also a Tort, wrongful interference with contract. The elements are: 1. An economic relationship between one person and another with the probability of future economic benefit to the person;

    2. Knowledge by the interfering party of the relationship between the first two;

    3. Intentional act(s) by the third person with the intent to disrupt the relationship;

    4. Actual disruption of the relationship; and

    5. Damages to the first person that are proximately caused by the acts of the third person.

  21. Nice breasts on her plus nice set of balls to call this state sponsored thug on his obvious bullshit. Cheers to her.

  22. Just to be clear. The reason he did this is because he is a piece of shit. No other reason. I only mention it because she was asking him why.

  23. Just more proof that most cops are thugs.

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