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An Ohio Man Was Arrested For Creating A Fake Police Department Facebook Page — Is This A Violation Of Free Speech?

An Ohio Man Was Arrested For Creating A Fake Police Department Facebook Page — Is This A Violation Of Free Speech?

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A 27-year-old from Ohio was arrested for creating a Facebook page that almost mirrored the ‘City of Parma Police Department’ page, his lawyers are now saying his case will raise some unique First Amendment issues. As you bros know the First Amendment protects our rights to free speech, but it’s also common knowledge that it’s illegal for a person to to impersonate an officer of the law, so I’m not entirely sure how this guy and his team of lawyers think that the First Amendment will protect him, but I’m curious to hear what you think about this.

Also, before we get to any more discussion of his arrest I think it’s important to note that Facebook worked with the local PD to have him arrested, aiding law enforcement by providing them with information on the origin of that Facebook page, information that led to the arrest of 27-year-old Anthony Novak.

CBSNews.com reports:

A suburban Cleveland police department said it has charged a 27-year-old man with creating a fake Facebook page that purported to be its actual page.
The Parma Police Department said Friday that Anthony Novak of Parma has been charged with a felony count of disrupting public services. The agency began investigating early this month when “The City of Parma Police Department” page showed up.
On March 2, 2016, Novak created a fake Facebook page that was nearly identical to the Parma Police Department’s official Facebook page, CBS affiliate WOIO reported.
The fake account used the name “The City of Parma Police Department,” and was set up in a manner in which it was similar to the department’s official Facebook page.
The department’s official Facebook page is listed as Police Station Government Organization under the name, “City of Parma Police Department.”
Police say detectives worked with Facebook officials in their investigation of the page’s origin and its removal.

I guess it’s important to note here that they didn’t charge Novak with false impersonation of an officer, they charged him with one felony count of ‘disrupting public services’. From where I’m sitting this seems like a clear cut case of false officer impersonation, but my hunch is that by charging him with ‘disrupting public services’ the Parma PD went with a charge that’d be easier for them to prove.

An attorney for Novak said the case might raise First Amendment issues.
“It’s an unusual case,” attorney David Brown told cleveland.com. Brown added that it was too soon to decide how he would approach Novak’s defense.
Parma Lt. Kevin Riley said police recognize citizens’ rights to exercise their freedom of speech, but they believe this went too far.
Police said Novak posted “derogatory and inflammatory” information.

He apparently posted some pretty F’d up info on the page. Trolling users with information about how sex offenders can have their names removed from the state sex offender list, and he posted statuses about how it’d be illegal for citizens to aid the homeless.

The Local Parma PD was panicking before they arrested Anthony Novak and put up this FB status in response:

The Parma Police Department would like to warn the public that a fake Parma Police Facebook page has been created. This…

Posted by City of Parma Police Department on Wednesday, March 2, 2016

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So, was this a violation of the first amendment? Do you think that Anthony Novak has any shot in court at winning his case?

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2 replies on “An Ohio Man Was Arrested For Creating A Fake Police Department Facebook Page — Is This A Violation Of Free Speech?”

I think if his defense is that this was a satirical work he has a really good chance of beating this one. They made a mistake by not charging him with impersonating law enforcement the problem though would have been that he never claimed to be an officer of the law he only mimicked the department page.

If someone mimicked e-bay, or amazon and took your money it wouldn’t be about free speech it would be fraud.

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