It appears that the Lima Police Department chose to take down their Facebook page completely instead of doing the right thing and allowing all users to verbalize their opinions freely. This took place literally within minutes of TruthVoice filing a public records request about Lima PD’s censorship of comments and content.
The page is back up and they are back to removing comments from users.
Since the publishing of this article, the Lima PD posted an ominous warning on their Facebook page in which they stand their ground on the removal of critical articles.
To make matters worse, they even issued a subtle threat of arrest or prosecution to users, stating “Facebook users who post about their involvement in any criminal activity may be subject to criminal prosecution. ”
The police department of Lima, Ohio which is known for several instances of police brutality, abuse and lying are now actively deleting critical comments made by users on their Facebook page, something which appears to be a direct violation of users’ first amendment rights, as the Facebook page is owned, run and maintained by a governmental entity and monitored by government employees.
After the recent news of Lima police losing their bid to prosecute a 19 year old beaten unconscious by a group of their officers, users have taken it to Facebook to voice their opinions and displeasure with the behavior of these officers and the decision of the city to prosecute someone who was almost killed by their cops. Comments on Facebook however started disappearing, especially comments critical of the police department or the cops in general.
In a call with Lt. Andy Green who is the public relations officer for the department, TruthVoice was told that all comments made on the Lima Police Department Facebook page are subject to the Terms and Conditions posted on the page. Lt. Green stated that comments critical of police are not deleted, but only comments that use profanity or violate the conditions are, something which is in fact blatantly false as TruthVoice was provided evidence of screenshots showing that this is not true.
Lt. Andy Green can be contacted at (419)227-4444.
Lt. Green did not explain who created the “Terms and Conditions” listed on the page, which is a document that appears to be manufactured to give the Facebook page an appearance of support from the general public, while removing any critical comment whatsoever. One clause in the document states,
The Lima Police Department reserves the right to remove any posts, or comments that are deemed to be offensive in nature. This could include uses of profanity, threats, or any posts or comments that could be potentially damaging to members of the public
In other words, the employees of the City of Lima have given themselves full authority to decide on the spot what to remove from the page, for any reason that they may seem “damaging to the public.” This apparently includes links to news reports which may not present their cops in a positive light.
Lt. Green stated that the page is monitored 24/7 by several individuals and was not apologetic about the deletion of comments; in fact he appeared to be annoyed by the fact that he was being questioned about this topic at all. He directed additional questions to the Lima City Law Director, Anthony Geiger. Geiger can be contacted at (419) 221-5183.
Over the weekend one of our own editors posted a short warning to the Lima PD reminding them that what they are doing is a violation of free speech rights. Another user posted a link to a Cop Block article about the beating of the 19 year old Tyler Paxson by Lima cops, however both comments were removed shortly thereafter.
More screenshots of comments were sent to us, one showing a user stating “Fuck the police!” who had the comment removed immediately. One of our own editors posted a comment under a picture of several Lima cops asking “Are these the same cops that beat the 19 year old” and another user posted another link to an article from Cop Block reporting on the case of Paxton.
It is very clear that Lima PD is engaged in a serious violation of the free speech of Americans and continue to be unapologetic in their ways. The brutality and violence propagated on the streets of Lima by their cops is now transferred into the digital world where they are censoring and removing all aspects of criticism from what is clearly a “public forum,” as the page is managed by the city.
Criticism of government is a long-standing American tradition. Lima PD has taken their “public service” to a new low and they appear to be readily willing to continue to do so.
TruthVoice is currently considering all available legal options, including a civil rights lawsuit, in order to remedy this situation.
If you have been wronged by Lima PD in any way, either physically, or online, please contact me at vvaduva at truthvoice.com.
Virgil Vaduva is a Libertarian security professional, journalist, photographer and overall liberty freak. He spent most of his life in Communist Romania and participated in the 1989 street protests which led to the collapse of the Ceausescu regime. He can be reached at vvaduva at truthvoice.com.