Making fun of public officials can be dangerous in the US
Owner of a parody account on Twitter was raided by the police and his computers and mobile phones were seized. The reason? His account was mocking the town mayor.The Journal Star is reporting that five people were taken by the Peoria Police earlier this week. “They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it,” said 27-year-old Michelle Pratt.
When the officers arrived banging down her door, she was in the shower. They showed her a search warrant they had obtained and seized all the electronic devices with Internet access, saying that they were looking at her for an Internet crime that occurred in that particular residence.
“They brought me in like I was a criminal,” she said.
The Twitter account in question is @Peoriamayor, which refers to Jim Ardis, the local city chief. The account has since been suspended.
While the owner of the account often posted messages alluding to drugs and other personal details, the profile clearly stated that it was a parody.
The police from Peoria is investigating a misdemeanor charge. It seems that impersonating a public official could get you a one-year jail sentence and a $2,500 fine (€1,809).
The captain is being cited as saying that someone had gone at great lengths to make it appear as if that was the actual mayor’s account. This theory would hold had there not been the mention that it was a parody account.