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CLEVELAND Mayor Jackson vetoes proposed unruly flash mob ordinance.


A hand delivered message was sent on Thursday from Mayor Frank Jackson to Cleveland City Council President Martin Sweeney, vetoing a proposed ordinance that would have made it illegal to use social media and flash mobs to disrupt or cause chaos at an event.

Numerous legal and policy concerns were expressed regarding the proposed criminal ordinance, which was the main reason Jackson put an end to the discussion.
“I am sympathetic with the goal of the Council to identify appropriate tools to deal with the increasing occurrence of unlawful mob activity fueled by the proliferation of cell phone use and other technology to communicate quickly with large numbers of people,” said Mayor Jackson in the veto letter. “However, like any criminal prohibition, the law needs to be narrowly tailored to combat the illegal activity, be an effective deterrent to wrongdoers, and not unduly interfere with the rights of law-abiding citizens.”
Mayor Jackson also didn’t approve of council members introducing and passing the issue on one reading without any public committee hearings or any input from the public at all.Read more: 

Social media, flash mobs, and the Constitution


We’ve seen a variety of situations recently where social media tools have been used for something other than social good.  A woman in Philadelphia posted an offer to pay $1000 for someone to kill the father of her baby, who is now dead… shot in the chest.  (Read the story here.)  The rioters in London used Blackberry Messenger (BBM), Facebook, and Twitter.  (Read herehere, and here, for example.)  The Cleveland suburb of Shaker Heights saw more than just fireworks this year on the Fourth of July.  (Read here.)  Violent flash mobs have been so frequent in Philadelphia that the mayor imposed a curfew for teens.  (Read here and here.)  Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Police shut off underground cell phone service last week in response to an above-ground protest.  (Read here and here.)  These are just a few examples.
Proponents of efforts to curtail the use of social media to incite violence seek to protect the greater good, i.e., keep the peaceful public safe from crazed mobs.  Opponents claim that such restrictions violate First Amendment rights of free speech and association.
In response to the July 4 mob and other similar activity, the Cleveland City Council adopted an ordinance as an “emergency measure” making it a misdemeanor crime to “use social media to induce persons to” riot, fail to disperse, or unlawfully congregate.

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