The mayor of Peoria says he’s the one who was wronged when someone set up a @peoriamayor Twitter account. Mayor Jim Ardis says Jon Daniel stole his identity when Daniel started a Twitter account – using Ardis’ photo – depicting the city’s three-term leader as a foul-mouthed, drug-crazed sex fiend. He says it would have helped if Daniel would have labeled the account as parody.
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Ardis had police seize Daniel’s computers, and Twitter shut down the account. Daniel was detained but not arrested. The American Civil Liberties Union is on the case. The Illinois branch’s legal director, Harvey Grossman, says while the tweets were crude, they are protected speech, and nobody would believe the real Ardis would conduct himself in such a manner.
“Your city fathers need a lesson,” Grossman told a Peoria news conference. “They need to be instructed by a federal judge that what they did was wrong.” Daniel says he is no more than “a man with a smart phone, a Twitter account, and a sense of humor” and that the city was wrong to use its resources against him. “It did not just violate the Constitution,” Grossman adds. “It defied common sense.”
Daniel and the ACLU are suing the city and the mayor in federal court. The mayor says he saw the account as a discredit to himself and a threat upon his family. He voiced displeasure that the media have not given his side of the story more weight.
Ardis also challenged any reporter who sees the tweets as “harmless parody” to publish or broadcast them.