Massachusetts Man Arrested For Posting “Put Wings On Pigs” On Facebook

chicopee-charles-dirosa1Charles DiRosa, 27, has been criminally charged in Chicopee, Massachusetts after he posted “Put Wings on Pigs” to Facebook. It was a despicable act after the murder of two New York police officers, but in my view it was protected speech.

Before murdering the two officers, Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted a statement that “I’m putting wings on pigs today” on social media.

Chicopee said that DiRosa’s posting was taken as a threat “in the eyes of every police officer in America today.” He has been summoned to court for Threat To Commit a Crime. In my view, the charge should be tossed and a serious review taken of the decision to pursue DiRosa for the exercise of free speech.

It has been very hard to watch the protesters who have chanted “What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”:

Likewise, people Jayceon Taylor aka the popular “Rapper The Game”, posted a taunting message on Instagram and Twitter for his over one million followers showing a picture of police officers and saying “I guess y’all ‘can’t breathe’ either.” After an outcry, he later insisted that he was responding to the officers wearing “I Can Breathe” shirts and “I didn’t say it was cool that. . . ”

Well it is not cool but it is also not criminal.

DiRosa can and should be denounced for this type of rhetoric but it is rhetoric. It is speech. As I noted recently in calls for Michael Brown’s stepfather to be prosecuted, such speech is protected not because of its value but because of the cost of allowing a government to choose what speech will be allow and what speech will be criminalized. Violent speech is protected under the Constitution absent such a threat of imminent violence. I have previously written about the dangerous line of criminalizing speech. I currently have a case going before the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on this issue in United States v. Al-Timimi.

If DiRosa is being charged solely for the use of this phrase, he has a strong constitutional claim. There is nothing in the media coverage suggesting that he took any concrete action or went beyond posting this hateful message.


Source: CBS

65 thoughts on “Massachusetts Man Arrested For Posting “Put Wings On Pigs” On Facebook”

  1. The commonwealth must prove there is more than just this Facebook post for the case to proceed beyond a show cause hearing. The post in itself is insufficient to meet the necessary elements of the statute. We’ll have to wait and see.

  2. Oily but bush, like clockwork, no it is a response to a specific post saying it is the dems who have curtailed free speech but hey never let facts get in your way of the narrative Obama is a bum and I don’t care about any stinkin’; facts.

  3. The podium from which one utters speech is crucial to First Amendment protection. If I were to post FIRE! here on the blog it is a bit different than yelling it in a croweded theatre live. If I am in a crowd of angry mobsters in Ferguson and yell: Burn The Bitch Down! then I may be inciting a riot. If I post it on Facebook, I don’t think it is inciting.
    Here is the kicker: Yell Burn This Bitch Down! in front of Al Sharpton’s home and see what the response is among the commenters on this blog.


    New York Daily News, Sunday July 13, 2014
    A Jersey City cop with just seven months on the job was shot to death by a gunman who had told a drugstore customer to watch the news because he was “going to be famous.”

    Minutes following that boast, Lawrence Campbell was on his way to infamy — executing Officer Melvin Santiago before he himself was killed in a hail of bullets by cops.

    The baby-faced Santiago, ambushed while still inside a marked patrol car, was just 23.

    The body of suspected cop killer Lawrence Campbell is seen on the ground Sunday as investigators work the scene outside Walgreens in Jersey City. Police shot Campbell after he killed Officer Melvin Santiago.
    The body of suspected cop killer Lawrence Campbell is seen on the ground Sunday as investigators work the scene outside Walgreens in Jersey City. Police shot Campbell after he killed Officer Melvin Santiago.
    The drama began around 4 a.m. Sunday as Campbell, 27, who may have been with a pal, entered a Walgreens on Communipaw Ave. and asked security guard Pierre Monsanto where he could find greeting cards for someone having a baby, officials and a friend of Monsanto said.

    The drama began around 4 a.m. Sunday as Campbell, 27, who may have been with a pal, entered a Walgreens on Communipaw Ave. and asked security guard Pierre Monsanto where he could find greeting cards for someone having a baby, officials and a friend of Monsanto said.

    Monsanto, 58, pointed to the card aisle, and later Campbell returned and asked Monsanto, “Do you think this is a nice card?” according to neighbor Katherine Calcano, 28, who spoke to Monsanto after the incident.

    Suddenly, Campbell — or his possible accomplice — pulled a knife and slashed Monsanto in the left cheek, punching him repeatedly and taking the guard’s gun.

    “He heard the gun clicking,” Calcano told the Daily News, recounting what Monsanto told her. “The person was trying to kill him with the gun, but he could not take the safety off.

    The shooting happened outside Walgreens on Communipaw Ave. at JFK Blvd.
    “Apparently the robbers thought he was dead because one of the guys told the cashier, ‘I killed your security guard,’ and ran out,” added Calcano. She said Monsanto gave the same account to his co-workers on Sunday after he was released from the hospital.

    After disabling the guard, Campbell went outside the 24-hour store. A surveillance video showed Campbell talking to “Watch the news later. I’m going to be famous,” he said, according to Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop.

    He waited about four minutes for the cops to respond to the report of an armed robbery. Santiago and his partner, Ismael Martinez, were the first on the scene, Fulop said.

    Campbell walked up to the passenger side of the squad car and shot Santiago as the officer tried to open the vehicle door, Fulop said. The deranged gunman fired three times at another police car “in an attempt to kill two other police officers,” the mayor said.

    Officers fired back, leaving the cop killer dead at the scene. No other officers were hurt.

    Fulop was at Jersey City Medical Center when Santiago’s mother came to identify the young officer’s body.

    “It’s not possible,” Cathy McBride said, according to Fulop.

    A dazed McBride repeated her son’s badge number over and over, he said.

    In recent days, Jersey City cops had been searching for Campbell and Daniel Wilson, his alleged accomplice in a previous homicide. Police were also looking for an unnamed third person of interest. Officials didn’t release details about that crime.

    Police have yet to confirm Calcano’s account or reveal whether Campbell had an accomplice.

    “He’s very shook up right now,” Calcano said of Monsanto. “He feels so bad that this happened to someone with his own weapon. He said, ‘If I was conscious, maybe I could have stopped them.’ ”

    Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop (center) speaks at a news conference about the death of Officer Melvin Santiago.
    Santiago graduated from the police academy in December and had a promising career ahead of him, relatives said.

    “He didn’t even make it a whole year,” said Santiago’s weeping stepfather, Alex McBride, 50. “I can’t believe it.”

    “In Jersey City, a sidewalk memorial honors accused cop killer” July 14, 2014

    As Jersey City mourns a police officer, others grieve for an accused cop killer.

    On Orient Avenue, just around the block from Lucky #3 Mini-Mart on Martin Luther King Drive, sits a memorial to Lawrence Campbell, the man who fatally shot Officer Melvin Santiago early Sunday morning.

    About two dozen candles and an assortment of empty liquor bottles – including two bottles of Petrón tequila – sit on the sidewalk. Above them, two white t-shirts fixed to the red brick wall feature messages to Campbell scrawled with black markers.

    “Thug In Peace.”

    “Live Life My Bro.”


    Campbell shot and killed Santiago early Sunday morning after Santiago responded to the Walgreens store at Communipaw Avenue and Kennedy Boulevard on a report of an armed robbery. Officers on the scene returned fire, killing Campbell.

    Rinse, repeat. Same story. Different day.

  5. Since everyone wants to go back to the 1970’s…….I think we should all view President Obama and the Reverend Al Sharpton exactly as Billy Martin viewed Reggie Jackson and George Steinbrenner.

  6. At least local small town news still seems to report “this happened, and this happened, and this” without going all meta-narrative on you.

    I can stand 3-4 minutes of it, tops.

  7. You know, like how the “1-in-5 rape” stat is completely false, but, well, heteronomativity is all rapey anyway.

    So FOX may have devolved into just another BS machine.
    One more reason I no longer watch TV “news” .

  8. Pogo

    You may want to draw the line just before you auto-blame Democrats and Obama for everything that has to do with what’s wrong. You must have an auto-insert fixed somewhere. Republicans interpret the law and the constitution to suit themselves and their power base just as do Democrats.

    The issue is the moment and what is appropriate. After 9/11, which happened on a Republican watch and was followed by arrogant and perverse Republican incompetence within and without the US, the decisions were made ‘of the moment’. They were critiqued through the ‘glass darkly’ views of the opposition Democrats but under the chaos of the moment, for the good of the people, certain ideals that we all recognize and yearn for were bent, or put aside, or whatever, in order to take care of the chaos of the moment.

    Given the perhaps reasonable and perhaps unreasonable use of force by various police officers and the justification by means of not being held accountable and the following rioting and now murder, it might just be a case of the necessity of putting this cretin’s ‘rights’ aside and dealing with him as a threat.

    Or you can continue to politicize the moment. There are moments for that, but this is not one of them.

    Regarding Obama, he stands miles above the three stooges and what they did to this country during the eight years of arrogant and perverse incompetence that led us down so far in all perspectives. If you want to take a moment and pull your head out of where you have it stuck, you might try the litmus test. I know that there is an auto-insert reaction to what I am about to say. It goes something like this. “We’re Number One, we don’t give a sh*t what that Euro Trash thinks, We won WW1 WW2 etc etc.” However, take a peek at how US Presidents are viewed abroad. Carter was seen as one of the most intelligent. Reagan was seen as a goofy smooth talking sometimes demented old ex actor. Clinton was seen as a randy but very intelligent Rhodes Scholar, self made, and smooth talker. The little painter, it is hard to even mention his name was seen as a joke. Obama is seen as another self made, intelligent, and person of high ideals.

    Merry Christmas anyway.

    1. and your proof for that? Meanwhile the right continually lies about the ACA, the president, the economic recovery, Benghazi, even though GOP found no there there, IRS “scandal” even though GOP investigation found no there there. etc
      You make pronouncements of “facts” but they are facts as you see them without any proof to back up what you say.

      1. leejcaroll – the IRS statement is a set up for the new committee who will start new hearings. The report complains about the continued stonewalling by the IRS and the administration making it impossible for the committee to do its job of oversight. However, it lays the groundwork for the new committee (Issa is term limited).

  9. Randyjet,
    We should all condemn the Baltimore Fox affiliate for producing fake news and anyone for that matter attempting to mislead readers to believe this is more than a local story. If this is a national Fox story; prove it and while your at it, demonstrate some objectivity and shine a bright light on EVERY instance of fake news.

  10. The FAUX news station admitted that they faked and edited the video to change the chant the crowd was saying. I would take exception to accusing them of anything when it appears on FAUX. To appear on FAUX is to legitimize a company that has nothing to do with the news business.

  11. Part of the problem is that the left uses that freedom in order to set up regimes that restrict freedom of speech.

    That’s what Democrats are constantly doing in the US.

    So I do not know where to draw the line.
    Libertarians seem to demand that free speech be a suicide pact, lest we violate its purity.

    1. Po it is not the dems alone.
      Bush set up “free speech zones” so far away that essentially protesters voices were silenced.

      When Bush came to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, “The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us.” The local police, at the Secret Service’s behest, set up a “designated free-speech zone” on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush’s speech. The police cleared the path of the motorcade of all critical signs, though folks with pro-Bush signs were permitted to line the president’s path. Neel refused to go to the designated area and was arrested for disorderly conduct; the police also confiscated his sign. Neel later commented, “As far as I’m concerned, the whole country is a free speech zone. If the Bush administration has its way, anyone who criticizes them will be out of sight and out of mind.”

      and “U.S. Secret Service Agent told Bursey neither he nor his anti-war poster belonged on a public corner.

      He was told he couldn’t be anywhere but the free speech zone.

      But that so-called “free speech zone” wasn’t outside the hangar where the President Bush was speaking. It wasn’t across the street. Nor was it down the street. It was a half a mile away, where he couldn’t be seen by the president. That’s exactly Bursey’s point.

      “We are minimalized to the point of being invisible,” says Bursey. “The invisibility of protest is something that’s new under the Bush administration.”

      Few would argue controlling protests is one way to control security.

      At the Philadelphia convention that nominated Mr. Bush in 2000, demonstrators were fenced in for fear violence would break out — and it did.

      But an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit charges the president’s “free speech zones” are so far out of sight they don’t control protests. Instead, they make them disappear.

      “There’s nothing more fundamentally un-American than punishing people for the content of their speech,” says Chris Hansen, of the ACLU.

      The suit cites more than a dozen instances all across the country where peaceful demonstrators were segregated from the rest of the public.

      When Mr. Bush’s motorcade came through Neville Island, Pa, last year, pro-Bush citizens could line the curb to wave and cheer.

      But anti-Bush protestors like retiree Bill Neel were ordered behind a fence, out of sight of the president and the press.

      “My moment to speak out was taken away from me,” says Neel.

      The Secret Service declined to discuss any specific case or to comment on camera, but told CBS News: “Decisions made in the formulation of a security plan are based on security considerations, not political considerations.”

      But Bursey says he wasn’t disrupting traffic or the event and adds that he wasn’t a security risk.

  12. Murray Rothbard has made the best case for freedom of speech and against the criminalization of it in this article:

    Should it be illegal, we may next inquire, to “incite to riot”? Suppose that Green exhorts a crowd: “Go! Burn! Loot! Kill!” and the mob proceeds to do just that, with Green having nothing further to do with these criminal activities. Since every man is free to adopt or not adopt any course of action he wishes, we cannot say that in some way Green determined the members of the mob to their criminal activities; we cannot make him, because of his exhortation, at all responsible for their crimes. “Inciting to riot,” therefore, is a pure exercise of a man’s right to speak without being thereby implicated in crime.

    On the other hand, it is obvious that if Green happened to be involved in a plan or conspiracy with others to commit various crimes, and that then Green told them to proceed, he would then be just as implicated in the crimes as are the others — more so, if he were the mastermind who headed the criminal gang. This is a seemingly subtle distinction which in practice is clearcut — there is a world of difference between the head of a criminal gang and a soap-box orator during a riot; the former is not, properly to be charged simply with “incitement.”

  13. Don’t we prosecute people that ‘use’ others to commit the crimes they aren’t willing to do themselves? How many husbands have been killed by the young lover of the wife because she influenced the action? I suppose if the wife said; “put wings on my husband”, that’s protected speech? But if he follows through and kills him, she has committed a crime? In this case, DiRosa’s speech should be protected but if proven to be THE motivation for someone to commit a crime; throw him to the wolves.

  14. It was a handful of folks, still makes it horrendously wrong, but it has repeatedly presented as from Sharpton and thousands of protesters.

    Some are attributing the chant not just to organizers of the New York march but even to Rev. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network had nothing to do with the New York march and held its own separate rally earlier that day in Washington, D.C. with the spouses and parents of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo and others, and televised on CSPAN and MSNBC.

    And yet, evidence shows the group that engaged in the death chant against police weren’t part of Millions March NYC. And if they did indeed march on Dec. 13, they did so long after the larger protest had moved downtown. They were not part of the main group.

    For one thing, according to the video, which was posted to Youtube the same day as the protest, the “dead cops” chant took place after sunset. You can see from the video that city lights are already on. The group starts by chanting “hands up, shoot back,” before switching to the death chant, and then an unintelligible chant at the end of the approximately 2 minute clip.

    A story posted by the New York NBC affiliate says the marchers were proceeding “down Fifth Avenue at 32nd Street” at 4:30 p.m. The Millions March NYC protest kicked off at 2 p.m. as thousands gathered in Washington Square Park near New York University on 5th Avenue and 8th Street. After turning west on 14th Street the march, which stretched across all lanes and down more than ten city blocks, proceeded up 6th Avenue as far as Herald Square (home to the famed Macy’s flagship store) at 32nd and Broadway. It then proceeded downtown on Broadway, to One Police Plaza.

    Millions March New York City march route for Dec. 13. Photo by

    By the time it reached Herald Square, which is on the west side of the city at least a mile from Murray Hill, it was still daylight. My photos from Herald Square are time stamped at around 3:30 p.m.

    The official march ended at One Police Plaza at 6:30 p.m., when the march’s permit expired, a point reinforced by a tweet sent by the organizers at 7:26 p.m.

    “Once the march reached 1 Police Plaza the march ended and there was a tweet that went out saying that anything that happens afterward was not organized by the MMNYC,” communications director Kate McNeely told me.

    McNeely added that some fellow activists took offense to the tweet.

    “We caught backlash for that tweet,” she said. “Because people felt we were separating ourselves from other protesters. Our clarification on Facebook made it clear that we support any non-violent direct action done by those who desire an end to systemic police abuse and violence disproportionately impacting black people.”

    Millions March organizers told me they don’t know the identity of the group was that was caught on cellphone camera marching through Murray Hill chanting about “dead cops.” But in response to press inquiries in the wake of the two officers’ slaying, the group released the following statement:

    “On behalf of the Millions March NYC, we express our deepest condolences to the families of the officers who were killed on Saturday. Our march last weekend was a peaceful outcry that senseless violence in our society is harmful to trust, community, and security. This tragedy is in no way connected to our march, or ongoing protests against police brutality, discrimination, and profiling – and we condemn, and are disappointed with any entity that would try to imply such connection. As New Yorkers, we will continue to march for a peaceful society, where trust between communities and law enforcement is finally achieved.”

    You may ot like MSNBC but the timeline is factual not right or left biased.
    Either way it is wrong but I think I agree with the professor. This kind of post that DiRosa put up certainly can be seen as a threat but it is also free speech. Where is the line drawn? I sure as heck don’t know.

  15. Society is judged by how it interprets and applies its laws. No law can stand alone without taking into consideration the moment. The law is there ultimately as it would pertain to limited predeterminations, those that have been experienced up to that point.

    Society’s actions walk hand in hand with its laws, sometimes one a step ahead or behind the other. If torture would specifically save a thousand lives, then society interprets the law one way. If torture cannot be seen as the cause for specific good then the law is interprets the other way.

    The same stands for free speech. While that idiot thumper in Florida was threatening to burn the Koran, several innocent aid workers in the Middle East were killed, in retaliation to a threat. Ask the family and loved ones of those that lost their lives so a lunatic could act ‘freely’.

    Ultimately it is not the lawyers that speak out of every corner possible, known and yet to be discovered, but the moment and how the courts determine what is best for society at that moment as well as taking into consideration the desire to be a perfect world. In a perfect world, the guy should be able to say what he wants. This is not a perfect world. Society owes for the sake of its own safety to make some sort of a statement. The precedent has been set. If someone, even in jest speaks the word ‘bomb’ loudly on an airplane, regardless of free speech and claiming innocence due to having been misinterpreted, they are prosecuted somehow. In this moment of potential panic, mayhem, and chaos, when someone feels so strongly or is so weak mentally or both to distribute threats veiled or otherwise, they should be dealt with by the law of the moment and not the ideological law of the perfect world.

  16. Thomas: On the day that issue of the Advocate went to press, the grand jury in Staten Island declined to indict the policeman who choked Eric Garner. They knew that information and added a comment on it below Gordon Barne’s editorial.

    Seems rather imminent.

  17. Pogo: Depends on how the speech is viewed in context of the Brandenburg test. Does not seem like the “imminent” factor would be sufficient in this case for him to be criminally charged.

  18. Chip, I expect you are right.
    it’s templated cut-n-paste communist revolution verbiage.


    Now that America is going through another interval of race riots, schools better be on their toes about what their students are doing.
    The socialist professors give these guys As, but donors and taxpayers may balk at funding it.

    And CUNY may be facing riots on their own campuses just like in the late 60s-early 70s.

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