Illinois police seized computers and mobile phones while raiding a house whose owner was suspected of parodying the town mayor on Twitter.
In all, five people following the Tuesday evening raid were taken to the Peoria Police Department station for questioning, local media report.
“They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it,” Michelle Pratt, 27, told the Journal Star.
She said she was in the shower when officers arrived.
“They brought me in like I was a criminal,” she added. “They said they had a search warrant and took all the electronic devices that had Internet access. They said there had been an Internet crime that occurred at this residence.”
The @Peoriamayor account, named after Mayor Jim Ardis, has been suspended. Some tweets alluded to sex and drugs. The profile showed the mayor’s picture, e-mail address, and biography, according to the Southern Illinoisan, which noted that the account was recently updated to state it was a parody.
Thin-skinned Politician sends Police to Raid Parody Account
Politicians can be a thin-skinned bunch. You’d think they’d let insults roll off their backs given how much power they have over the lives and livelihoods of others. But if you have all that power, why bother letting insults roll of your back when you can use that power to disproportionately punish people?
Jim Ardis, mayor of Peoria, Illinois, ordered police to track down whoever was responsible for a parody Twitter account mocking him.
As a result, police raided a West Bluff home, seized property, and detained three people for questioning. The Twitter account, @PeoriaMayor, has been suspended. According to the Journal Star, the account had all of 50 posts and an equal number of followers. The Twitter profile apparently did not initially indicate that it was a parody account, but added that label in early March.
The label was hardly necessary, though, to prevent reader confusion. The Journal Star explains that “police were informed of the account by Ardis on March 12. The tweets implied ‘Mayor Ardis utilizes illegal drugs, associates with prostitutes and utilized offensive inappropriate language,’ according to an affidavit filed for the warrant.” Who would actually believe such tweets were coming from the mayor? Well, maybe residents of Toronto.
Nevertheless, police raided this home and intend to charge whoever was responsible for the account for false impersonation of a public official. The police chief also doesn’t think it was obvious the account was a parody and thinks the impersonator “went to great lengths to make it appear it was actually from the mayor.”