Leaders of the local Black Lives Matter chapter are suing Sacramento Sheriff Scott Jones after he blocked them from posting on his Facebook page. They say his move violates their rights to free speech.
Tanya Faison and Sonia Lewis say they Jones banned them last fall after posting critical comments on his Facebook page.
"I made the same comments and then he deleted them in real time. They were deleted immediately," Faison said Wednesday during a news conference at the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California’s offices in downtown Sacramento.
The ACLU chapter filed the lawsuit on behalf of Faison and Lewis. Attorney Sean Riordan says Jones’ Facebook page differs from others because it is a public place for discussion, not a private one where people can view content only after being invited.
"Sheriff Jones' Facebook page constitutes a public forum. In a public forum, this kind of censorship based on the content of speech is impermissible," Riordan said.
He said there is precedent for the suit: three U.S. governors and President Trump have lost court cases after deleting the posts or blocking people from commenting on their social media accounts.
The complaint also alleges discrimination based on Faison and Lewis’ views and their identities as leaders of Black Lives Matter.
Jones, who is the only defendant in the case, declined to discuss the suit. Neither the sheriff’s department nor its Facebook page are named in the suit.
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