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St. Louis Man Faces Charges for Allegedly ‘Making Terrorist Threats’ on Twitter Against Police

Jason Valentine (Photo: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A thirty-five year-old black man from the St. Louis area has been charged with ten felony counts of making “terrorist threats” on Twitter against police.

Prosecutors filed the charges against Jason Valentine on New Year’s Day. They stem from messages he tweeted between December 3 and December 14, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Valentine allegedly posted, “St. Louis City Justice Center Mysteriously Exploded 12/31/2014 #Ferguson #VonderritMyers Shawtown 211MOB 2014Riots.” He posted, “Get $ Kill DW. Fukk Police. 12/31/2014. Kill a pig Night. $$$$$. HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE 211MOB SHAWTOWN RIP LIL DROOP #VonderritMyers.” He posted, “12/31/14 Kill a pig night in Stl. #Ferguson #VonderritMyers 211MOB Shawtown #KillJeffRoorda #KillDW Fuck12 Happy New Years Eve. $.

He also allegedly posted, “Fukk the STLPOA Kill a pig Night 12/31/2014 #Ferguson #VonderritMyers Shawtown 211MOB 2015 Riots Get $.” And, “Fuck 12 and u. PICK A sidE or die with em. #Ferguson #VonderritMyers Shawtown 211MOB New Years Eve Massacre Kill a Pig Night 12/31/2014.”

Under Missouri law, a person has committed the crime of “making a terrorist threat” if that person “communicates a threat to cause an incident or condition involving danger to life, communicates a knowingly false report of an incident or condition involving danger to life or knowingly causes a false belief or fear that an incident has occurred or that a condition exists involving danger to life.”

The crime includes making the threat with the “purpose of frightening ten or more people,” which Valentine is charged with doing. However, the complaint against him does not mention the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any buildings or facilities of transportation, which is a part of the law.

Each count against Valentine is a class C felony that carries a potential sentence of seven to ten years in prison.

News reports do not indicate when Valentine was arrested—if it was before New Year’s Eve, the date that appears in the tweets cited in the complaint.

Since two New York police officers were murdered on December 20 after a mentally ill man posted on Instagram, “I’m putting wings on pigs today…they take one of ours, let’s take two of theirs,” police throughout the United States have been aggressively monitoring social media.

On December 22, the NYPD arrested 18-year-old Devon Coley of Brooklyn. They claimed he was a “known member of a local gang called Addicted to Cash” and charged him with “making terroristic threats” after he posted an anti-police cartoon titled “73Next.”

The 73rd Precinct, which includes Brownsville, interpreted this posting as a threat. The cartoon was of a man, a police officer and a gun that was pointed at the officer. (Note: BuzzFeed News could not view the post because of Coley’s privacy settings, which raises questions about the dragnet surveillance of social media the NYPD has been engaged in and to what extent they may have violated citizens’ privacy.)

At least six men, including Coley, have been charged with making terroristic threats against NYPD in the past ten days. One was accused of this crime after he allegedly posted something to his Facebook page threatening to kill police officers and posted photos of weapons, according to a local radio station in New York.

From the International Business Times:

Given the nationwide wave of protests against police since the killing of [Mike] Brown on Aug. 9, experts said the courts may view the Facebook posts as political. As such, they may be considered a form of speech protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “The courts will no doubt look at the backdrop against which these posts were made,” said Clay Clavert, director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project. “Given the rhetoric that’s going on in New York right now, people are going to say things that are over the top. The question is whether they have real intent.”

Did Valentine intend to blow up the St. Louis City Justice Center? Because there is nothing in the criminal complaint against him to suggest that he ever had such an intention.

That means the issue becomes one of prosecutorial discretion and whether society gains anything from bringing terrorism charges against a person, who may only be engaged in angry, extreme and offensive speech.

People like Valentine should be unquestionably be questioned by police so officers can discern if he plans to attack government buildings or kill cops. But society needs to reckon with the fact that this criminalization is going on in the midst of a period where police and prosecutors are fighting to preserve a status quo that protects cops who actually kill suspects from facing prosecutions.

CommunityFDL Main BlogThe Dissenter

St. Louis Man Faces Charges for Allegedly ‘Making Terrorist Threats’ on Twitter Against Police

Jason Valentine (Photo: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department)

A thirty-five year-old black man from the St. Louis area has been charged with ten felony counts of making “terrorist threats” on Twitter against police.

Prosecutors filed the charges against Jason Valentine on New Year’s Day. They stem from messages he tweeted between December 3 and December 14, according to the St. Louis Post Dispatch.

Valentine allegedly posted, “St. Louis City Justice Center Mysteriously Exploded 12/31/2014 #Ferguson #VonderritMyers Shawtown 211MOB 2014Riots.” He posted, “Get $ Kill DW. Fukk Police. 12/31/2014. Kill a pig Night. $$$$$. HAPPY NEW YEARS EVE 211MOB SHAWTOWN RIP LIL DROOP #VonderritMyers.” He posted, “12/31/14 Kill a pig night in Stl. #Ferguson #VonderritMyers 211MOB Shawtown #KillJeffRoorda #KillDW Fuck12 Happy New Years Eve. $.

He also allegedly posted, “Fukk the STLPOA Kill a pig Night 12/31/2014 #Ferguson #VonderritMyers Shawtown 211MOB 2015 Riots Get $.” And, “Fuck 12 and u. PICK A sidE or die with em. #Ferguson #VonderritMyers Shawtown 211MOB New Years Eve Massacre Kill a Pig Night 12/31/2014.”

Under Missouri law, a person has committed the crime of “making a terrorist threat” if that person “communicates a threat to cause an incident or condition involving danger to life, communicates a knowingly false report of an incident or condition involving danger to life or knowingly causes a false belief or fear that an incident has occurred or that a condition exists involving danger to life.”

The crime includes making the threat with the “purpose of frightening ten or more people,” which Valentine is charged with doing. However, the complaint against him does not mention the evacuation, quarantine or closure of any buildings or facilities of transportation, which is a part of the law.

Each count against Valentine is a class C felony. He could potentially be sentenced from anywhere to three to ten years in prison.

News reports do not indicate when Valentine was arrested—if it was before New Year’s Eve, the date that appears in the tweets cited in the complaint.

Since two New York police officers were murdered on December 20 after a mentally ill man posted on Instagram, “I’m putting wings on pigs today…they take one of ours, let’s take two of theirs,” police throughout the United States have been aggressively monitoring social media. (more…)

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Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof Press. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."

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