There was recently a strange story out of Peoria, Illinois, although not strange in terms of the government’s use and abuse of power. It started with Jon Daniel, who set up a fake Twitter account to make fun of the mayor, Jim Ardis.
Since the politician in question naturally didn’t like that someone was imitating him and making fun of him, he sent in the SWAT team last April. It was done in the name of “false personation”.
But the story took a twist when the authorities found marijuana. But it didn’t belong to Daniels, the purported Twitter impersonator. It belonged to Jacob Elliott, Daniel’s roommate.
So naturally, the authorities seized the drugs and arrested Jacob Elliott. He now faces felony charges for marijuana possession.
This past week, a judge in Peoria ruled that the raid was legitimate and that the police had probable cause in looking for the electronic devices that were the source of the parody Twitter feed. Unfortunately, this means that Elliott, who as far as we know had nothing to do with the fake Twitter account, is still on the hook for criminal charges for drug possession.
Government Gone Wild
This is just another example of an out of control government. It just so happens that in this case, it is in a town of about 120,000 people. There are so many things wrong with this case, it is hard to know where to begin.
First, what if this had been a celebrity that was being imitated? Would the celebrity have been able to call in the SWAT team so quickly?
Politicians really hate being made fun of, so it is no surprise that this mayor sought revenge. But ironically, because of the incident, there are now supposedly as many as 15 parody Twitter accounts of the mayor.
The second thing that sticks out to me is the level of force that was used. Do you really need to send in a SWAT team? Is that what taxpayer resources are going to? If the authorities suspected it was Daniel doing it, why couldn’t they have picked up the phone and said something to him? Wouldn’t that have been enough?
And if he refused to stop, then at least let a court decide on whether his actions were legal. Did they really need to raid his house? There is no indication that Daniel has denied the allegations.
Of course, the third thing that sticks out to someone who actually cares about liberty is that the drug war strikes again. Jacob Elliott had nothing to do with the incident for which the warrant was issued; yet he is the one in trouble. He did not harm anyone or incite anything. He is guilty of possessing a plant. He is another victim of the nation’s drug laws that convicts millions of non-violent people.
Meanwhile, Jon Daniel is getting help from the ACLU to sue the city for a civil rights violation.
If there is one good thing that comes out of this story, it is that the town’s mayor looks like a thug to the many thousands of people who have seen the story. The original Twitter parody had very few followers and had almost no influence. But because of the mayor’s ego and his lust to exercise power over others, he now faces far more heat than any fake Twitter account could have done to him.
The internet has been a great thing for exposing corrupt and lying politicians (which are many), but we should also expect them to use their power in an attempt to stop it.