An Illinois man arrested when his residence was raided for parodying his town's mayor on Twitter is settling a civil rights lawsuit with the city of Peoria for $125,000. The accord spells out that the local authorities are not to prosecute people for parodies or satire.
Plaintiff Jon Daniel, the operator of the @peoriamayor handle, was initially accused last year of impersonating a public official in violation of Illinois law. However, the 30-year-old was never charged. His arrest was kicked off after the local mayor, Jim Ardis, was concerned that the tweets in that account falsely portrayed him as a drug abuser who associates with prostitutes. One tweet Ardis was concerned about said, "Who stole my crackpipe?"
As part of the agreement, (PDF) which includes legal fees, his attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union said Peoria will publish a "directive" to the police department making it clear that Illinois law criminalizing impersonation of a public official does not include parody and satire.
"The directive makes clear that parody should never be the predicate for a criminal investigation and that the action against Mr. Daniel should never be repeated again," Karen Sheley, an ACLU attorney, said in a statement.
Daniel said he never "dreamed" that he would be arrested for his fake Twitter account.
"I am satisfied with the outcome in this case," Daniel said in a statement. "I always thought that the twitter account was a joke for me and for my friends."
As we previously reported, the city had defended the arrest: