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Peoria mayor has police raid home of man who made fake Twitter account, ACLU sues

"There is no way for someone to know that what was being said under my name, picture and contact information was not coming from me," rationalizes mayor who ordered raid.
By Matt Bradwell   |   June 16, 2014 at 5:50 PM
| License Photo

PEORIA, Ill., June 16 (UPI) -- The ACLU of Illinois is suing Peoria Mayor Jim Ardis for allegedly ordering police to raid the home of local man Jon Daniel after Daniel created a parody Twitter account under Ardis' name.

In April, Ardis filed a criminal complaint against Daniel for creating the openly-fake Twitter handle @Peoriamayor and tweeting about drug use and prostitution among other subversive topics unlikely to be publicly discussed by a political figure not named Marion Barry.

"It was created to be a joke," Daniel told the Chicago Tribune. "I thought my friends would find it funny."

It was humor the Republican mayor did not share, as Arids publicly stated he did not think people could differentiate between truth and parody.

"There is no way for someone to know that what was being said under my name, picture and contact information was not coming from me," Ardis claimed.

"My identity as mayor was stolen. Anyone reading the content would assume they were reading my comments as the mayor."

Allegedly acting on Ardis's orders, Peoria police raided Daniel's home seizing computers, smart phones and arresting a man on an unrelated drug charge.

"When I got home, I discovered that my room had been searched," Daniel described.

"The next few days were like a blur for me. I was very scared and helpless. I could not sleep. I had a sense of impending doom."

"The behavior here not only violated the Constitution, it violated common sense," ACLU of Illinois Legal Director Harvey Grossman said in a statement. Grossman is representing Daniel against Ardis.

"Political parody is a great tradition in the United States -- from Thomas Nast to Jon Stewart. In a number of public statements, the mayor and Peoria officials have been unapologetic about their activities. The only way to hold these government officials accountable is to have a federal court rule that their actions violated the fundamental constitutional rights of our client."
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