An Illinois Mayor Raided A Resident's Home Over A Parody Twitter Account
In 2014, a resident of Peoria, Illinois named Jon Daniel created a parody Twitter account to vent his frustration with his mayor, Jim Ardis. Under the cartoonish digital mask, Daniel accused Ardis of various nefarious deeds, such as using drugs, hiring prostitutes, and pocketing cash from the town treasury. Everyone who uses Twitter knows that this isn't uncommon on the social media platform -- parody accounts exist to mock everyone from Prince to God. Admittedly, that's a short range.
Ardis, however, apparently doesn't use Twitter. After presumably spending five minutes dialing the judge's number into his rotary phone, he obtained a warrant against Daniel for the misdemeanor of "impersonating a public official" and sent the Peoria SWAT team to swarm Daniel's home. Police seized Daniel's computer, along with several other PCs, four iPhones, an iPad, and two XBOXes. They couldn't take the chance that he'd roast the mayor over some Call of Duty with the boys, apparently.
A week later, the State's Attorney's Office of Peoria County announced that no charges would be filed concerning the parody Twitter account because it turned out it wasn't actually against the law. Backed by the ACLU, Daniel sued the city for violations of his first and fourth amendment rights and reached an out-of-court settlement awarding him $125,000 in 2015. Meanwhile, Ardis's efforts to silence his trolly dissenters backfired majorly, as dozens of new parody accounts were created once the story hit the national media. Trolls really are like hacky, cringey weeds -- you pluck up one, and several more take its place.