Black Lives Matter Sacramento has filed a lawsuit against a California sheriff who they say blocked them from posting on his Facebook page. According to two leaders of the group, Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones’ action violated their First Amendment rights.
In a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union in the Sacramento federal district court Wednesday, Jan. 30, Tanya Faison and Sonia Lewis say Jones deleted comments the leaders made on Oct. 31 and Nov. 5 when they replied to a post on his page where he gave his thoughts on the continuing debate concerning the amount of supervision the Office of the Inspector General should have over his department.
In August 2018, IG Rick Braziel published a report scrutinizing the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department about the shooting death of Mikel McIntyre. The 32-year-old father was shot seven times by sheriff’s deputies in May 2017 when he ran away from authorities. Several people posted on Jones’ public Facebook page over the matter — including Faison and Lewis, according to KFBK News Radio.
The post made on the sheriff’s page in November contained screenshots from the BLM Facebook account saying the organization wanted to “abolish the police.” It also contained a post Faison put on her page, which said: “all cops are bastards.”
The filing claims Jones blocked Faison and Lewis from leaving any other comments. Faison alleges they remain banned from his page presently.
“I want to say something to the effect of ‘Are you going to block me…are you going to start following me?’” Faison recalled at Wednesday’s press conference of what led to her getting blocked. “They weren’t anything abusive. They were basically questions.”
Speaking to the Sacramento Bee, Faison, who is a founding member of the local BLM chapter, said the social networking website is one of the few places the organization can interact with Jones.
“Facebook is one of the only places where we can engage with the sheriff and his supporters,” she said. “Expressing our views is part of our role as residents of Sacramento.”
ACLU attorney Sean Riordan said at the news conference that “stopping censorship has always been at the core of free speech protections.”
“Sheriff Jones has been relentless in his pursuit to silence me and other members of the Black Lives Matter Sacramento chapter,” Jones said.
The Bee was told the sheriff would be unable to comment on the matter as he recuperates from gallbladder surgery.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified of damages as well as an order for Jones to unblock Faison and Lewis from his official social networking pages.