Breaking News Bar
updated: 6/12/2014 5:17 PM

Peoria mayor sued over response to Twitter account

hello
Success - Article sent! close
  • Jon Daniel, 29, of Peoria makes a statement as the American Civil Liberties Union's Harvey Grossman, left, and Roshni Shikari listen Thursday. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on Daniel's behalf against Peoria's mayor and police chief.

      Jon Daniel, 29, of Peoria makes a statement as the American Civil Liberties Union's Harvey Grossman, left, and Roshni Shikari listen Thursday. The ACLU has filed a lawsuit on Daniel's behalf against Peoria's mayor and police chief.
    Associated Press

  • Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis

      Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

PEORIA, Ill. -- A man whose home was raided in response to a parody Twitter account he set up in the name of Peoria's mayor is suing the city, the mayor and the police chief, alleging authorities violated his constitutional rights to free speech.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Peoria by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, which is representing the account's creator, 29-year-old Jonathan Daniel. The filing calls the account a "satiric form of expression protected by the First Amendment" and says no one could have reasonably thought the tweets actually came from the mayor.

Order Reprint Print Article
 
Interested in reusing this article?
Custom reprints are a powerful and strategic way to share your article with customers, employees and prospects.
The YGS Group provides digital and printed reprint services for Daily Herald. Complete the form to the right and a reprint consultant will contact you to discuss how you can reuse this article.
Need more information about reprints? Visit our Reprints Section for more details.

Contact information ( * required )

Success - request sent close

"The joke of the account was to have my fictional mayor saying things that no one would possibly think that Mayor Jim Ardis would say," Daniel said in a written statement released Thursday. "If the mayor was concerned, all he had to do was tell the public that this was not his account and not his words, rather than involving the police."

Daniel set up the account in March using the handle @peoriamayor along with Ardis's official photo. In crude language, the tweets talked about sex, drugs and alcohol. A few days later he labeled the account a parody, something Twitter requires.

Police following up on a criminal complaint from the mayor raided Daniel's home on April 15 even though by then Twitter had suspended the account in response to threats of legal action from city officials. The raid sparked complaints from residents that the mayor had abused his powers.

Officers seized computers, cellphones and other electronic devices and arrested several of his roommates and their guests. Daniel, who was not home, was arrested the same day at his workplace.

About a week later, prosecutors announced they would not charge him, saying Daniel had not violated the Illinois law against impersonating public officials.

Responding to the lawsuit, the mayor said Thursday that he felt the man behind the account had stolen his identity, threatened his reputation and impinged on his own freedoms.

He noted that the account included the city logo and the mayor's actual address and contact information.

"Anyone reading the content would assume they were reading my comments as mayor," Ardis said in a statement.

Daniel says he created the account mainly for his own entertainment and the amusement of his friends and had no intention of deceiving people. It had only a handful of followers.

Share this page
Comments ()
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.
    help here