Criminalizing Criticism of the Policeby William Grigg
Jan. 15, 2013
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Dominic Ray Aguilar, a 37-year-old cab driver from Roseville, California, has been charged with making “terroristic threats” against Police Officer John Moody, who shot 35-year-old Ernesto Duenez 11 times in the driveway of his home in June 2011. Duenez, who was suspected of violating his parole, was unarmed and exiting his pickup truck when Moody shot him. He tried to comply with Moody’s order to get down on the ground, but his foot was caught in a seat belt.
On the Facebook page memorializing Duenez, Aguilar wrote: “50 rounds to your dome Moody.” His attorney points out that the comment, while shocking, is not an “immediate, credible threat” and therefore falls within established guidelines as protected free speech.
Toledo, Ohio resident Jason Philips took a picture of a police department employee in the hallway of the Municipal Courthouse and posted it to his Facebook page. The individual was a public employee in a public venue where he had no reasonable expectation of privacy. Nevertheless, Philips was threatened with criminal charges because the individual was said to be an undercover police operative.
Any government that seeks to punish criticism of the police as a form of “terrorism” is totalitarian – at least in principle.