Criminal Tweets: Man Arrested for Twitter Messages During G20 Protests

200px-Twitter_logo.svgElliot Madison, 41, is the subject of an intriguing — and in my view compelling — constitutional fight with both federal and state authorities. A self-described anarchist, Madison was arrested for using Twitter to send messages on the location of police during the G20 protests. Pittsburgh has been accused of excessive measures and this case appears to be one such case.

Madison says that he was arrested because his tweets were assisting people to evade the police. FBI agents executed a search warrant Thursday at his home in Queens and seized computers, political writings, anarchist literature, gas masks and a pound of liquid mercury. The mercury could suggest additional charges are to come.

However, arresting someone for communications based on public observations is an abuse of authority and a violation of the Constitution. The scene is uncomfortably reminiscent of the Chinese police seeking people with pictures of publicly viewed abuses, here. Likewise, the Iranian government arrested bloggers viewed as supporting the protests over the presidential election, here.

This case involves a more sophisticated assault on free speech rights: claiming that the tweets assisted criminal conduct. It is a theory that would gut the first amendment and create a chilling effect on citizen communications. We will see in the days to come if the police offer a different theory for the arrest.

The involvement of the FBI only deepens the concern over the first amendment. Citizens are allowed to share publicly available information, even if it assists people engaged in unlawful protests.

Scenes like the one below are extremely disturbing and show what appears to be an inappropriate response against students who were merely watching the protests:

For the story, click here and here.

10 thoughts on “Criminal Tweets: Man Arrested for Twitter Messages During G20 Protests”

  1. This article touches on the abusive, criminal and unconstitutional practices that I’ve seen over the past few years — practices that I can’t believe are taking place on a broad scale in America.

    There are things taking place that no one wants to believe. I’ve written about them here. I keep telling myself that good will triumph over evil, but there are days when I’m no longer certain. How does one begin to tackle widespread criminal and constitutional abuses when those in law enforcement either don’t believe legitimate claims or turn a blind eye to them?

  2. This reminds me of a friend that got a ticket for flashing his headlights to oncoming traffic to indicate that a cop was ahead.

    It has been about 20 years, so I don’t remember if he got a ticket for flashing the lights, or some trumped up charge, but the officer let him know it was for the light flashing.

  3. This is what happens when protests are peaceful – the riot gear-clad police have nothing to do, and they get itchy. At that point the only thing they can do is swarm and “subdue” the onlookers and innocent bystanders.

    It would be interesting to know what kinds of charges have been leveled against the spectators who were hauled off in police custody.

  4. Mein Kaump, Der Fuhrer has spoken on this subject. Sig Heil. Sig Heil… My Fuhrer.

    What could be more than an abstract truth, truncated truth. Now if I can just run a red light and not pay that damn ticket or have my insurance go up as a result of this silly ole civil infraction.

  5. The cops are in public. They have no reasonable privacy expectation including their geographic location. There is no compelling state interest in this except pure repression. If letting people know where the cops are, then be prepared to fight Garmin and every other GPS manufacturer that provides real time traffic and rerouting. And every publicly accessible web cam operator and the associated manufactures.


    We have every RIGHT to know where and what the cops are doing if they are deployed in the street because we are not a military dictatorship. Why? Did it ever occur to you that some people wanted to know where this action was taking place TO AVOID IT FOR NON CRIMINAL REASONS LIKE STAYING OUT OF THE WAY OR SIMPLY GETTING THEIR SHOPPING HOME BEFORE THE ICE CREAM MELTS? Hm, geniuses? Did you think of that?

    The days of any citizen cooperating with the police is rapidly coming to an end. That’s what happens when you ignore the rule of law. Using them like MP’s and using military pacification weapons on protesters exercising their rights to both free speech and assembly just goes to show that Obama is every bit the repressive fascist that Bush and Cheney were. And when the shit hits the fan, I hope Scalia gets hit first since he was so instrumental in the rise of fascism and the destruction of the Separation of Powers doctrine in his appointing a President and then allowing Monkeyboy Bush to WRITE LAWS via signing statement. Unconstitutional repression deserves to be met with force and eventually, you are going to get your wish, Washington.

  6. Are we becoming a police state? Is Big Brother here to stay? This is certainly a disturbing video. Thanks for posting this story.

    I recall the arrest of Amy Goodman at the RNC.


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