The San Diego Sheriff's Department has seemingly kissed its Facebook page good bye after an Oceanside gun parts dealer filed a lawsuit against the agency in the Southern District federal court.
Sources close to the case says it all started with a couple, less-than-flattering comments about Sheriff Bill Gore; the plaintiff said not only were his remarks deleted, the department banned him from posting anything else on their Facebook wall.
His attorney has alleged that both these actions have violated his client's right to free speech. Their argument is simple- social media platforms are the new "town hall meetings". All citizens have the right to take the floor for public comments, he said, and not allowing his client to speak his mind is a violation of his First Amendment rights.
They also point out that a similar lawsuit was filed in Hawaii earlier this year; the plaintiff in that case, the Honolulu PD, has since allowed the public to post on their page without restriction.
The county's defense attorneys have rebutted, citing a federal court ruling that permits the government to limit the forum to certain subjects and groups, so long as it does not discriminate based on viewpoint.
Remember Ruby Ridge
According to court documents, all this goes back to two posts the plaintiff added to the San Diego Sheriff's Department Facebook page back in September; one was done using his name, the second were done under a pseudonym. Both allege the sheriff was involved in the murder of an unarmed woman in 1992.
At that time, Gore had been working as an FBI supervisor; the agency had been called in to help apprehend a suspect but a sniper misfired and killed the man's wife. Several agents were sanctioned, according to reports, but Gore was not among them.
The plaintiff is arguing the removal of those posts are flagrant examples of censorship at its best. He wants the judge to force the sheriff's department to restore all of his deleted comments; he also wants to have his posting rights renewed.
The sheriff's department, however, says it's all a moot point because the page has been taken down.