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Man sues police after being arrested and convicted for calling them racists on Facebook

By Mason White 10:50 AM November 27, 2014

By: Mahesh Sarin
A man is suing a Wisconsin police department for violating his rights.

The man filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the Arena Police Department violated his civil rights by arresting him after calling them racists on Facebook.

The incident began when the Arena Police posted a message on their Facebook page, thanking the members of the community for helping them detain “two black children.”

Thomas Smith felt that the officers were racists, and made his opinion clear with a profanity-laced comment on the Arena Police Department’s Facebook page.

Smith accused the police of targeting suspects based on their race.

Later that day, Smith got a call from the police department, asking if he had posted the comment. Smith responded that he did and added that he stands by it.

That night, officers arrested Smith at his home in Arena. He was charged with disorderly conduct and unlawful use of computerized communications.

Prosecutors argued that his words were not protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution, as they could incite violence.

Smith was found guilty, convicted and sentenced to probation with community service.

However, he appealed that case and the State Appeals Court overturned the conviction. The judges ruled that Facebook posts are protected by the First Amendment.

Smith is suing the police department, alleging that officials retaliated against him. He is seeking an unspecified amount for legal fees and damages.

The lawsuit notes that the department deleted the Facebook messages that were critical of the officers.