Peoria Settles Lawsuit Over Parody Twitter Account

Sep 3, 2015

The City of Peoria is paying $125,000 to a man who created a parody Twitter account of the city’s mayor. The payment settles a federal lawsuit involving free speech and social media.

Credit WCBU

Jon Daniel’s home was raided last spring after he created the Twitter account that spoofed Peoria’s Mayor and included raunchy messages before it was suspended.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Karen Sheley represented Daniel. She says the settlement compensates Daniel for being arrested and investigated but never charged with a crime.

“And it was all for First Amendment protected speech,” Sheley said. “You step back and think about that, it’s really shocking.”

Sheley says the case is unusual because it involves a police investigation following parody speech on Twitter.  

City attorney Jim Sotos says it would have cost far more to fight the lawsuit instead of settling.

“Fiscally, it was the only responsible thing to do,” Sotos said.

Sotos says the city was confident that, had the matter gone to court, the city would have won the case. 

The settlement also includes a directive to Peoria police officers that state law protects satirical impersonation of public official.