The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit claiming that Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones repeatedly blocked Black Lives Matter Sacramento leaders from posting comments on the sheriff’s official Facebook page.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Wednesday, the ACLU filed a suit in federal district court in Sacramento, arguing that Sheriff Jones violated the First Amendment rights of Black Lives Matter members leaders Tanya Faison and Sonia Lewis when he deleted comments they made on October 31st and November 5th.
In May 2018, deputies working in Jones’ department fatally shot Mikel McIntyre, a 32-year-old Black man suffering from mental and emotional disabilities.
During the incident which took place on the shoulder of Highway 50 in Sacramento, McIntyre reportedly threw a rock at one deputy, striking him in the head. As he began to run away from the scene he threw two more rocks; one hitting a police dog and another nicking a deputy on the leg.
After that, the unarmed and disabled man continued to flee until he was shot in the back and killed. Despite the fact that three deputies fired 28 shots at a man armed with nothing but a few pebbles, D.A. Anne Marie Schubert declined to press charges against the deputies.
— kcranews (@kcranews) January 31, 2019
The public was outraged by the excessive force they believe was used in the case against McIntyre. Sheriff Jones clearly saw nothing wrong with what his officers did, so much so that he even took to Facebook to gain support for them while bashing the local chapter of Black Lives Matter.
When Faison and Lewis went to the sheriff’s Facebook page to fact check his statements and provide a critical response, he deleted their comments and blocked them entirely.
“This attempt to silence us shows how little the sheriff values Black lives and the movement to combat injustice and inequality,” Faison said in a statement released by the ACLU. “It is our role to call public attention to state violence and racist policing whether the sheriff likes it or not.”
Sean Riordan, a senior staff attorney for the ACLU, says Jones “censored” Faison and Lewis on his official Facebook page because of the “content of their speech.”
“Sheriff Jones has attempted to stifle the voices of the leaders of Black Lives Matter Sacramento,” explains Riordan. “This is impermissible censorship that violates both the state and federal constitutions.”
The suit, which is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, also calls for an injunction requiring Jones to unblock Faison and Lewis from his official social media accounts.