ACLU files lawsuit against Woonsocket Mayor for alleged censorship on Facebook
PROVIDENCE, R.I (WLNE) – The ACLU of Rhode Island’s cooperating attorney’s filed a federal lawsuit challenging Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt in what is being called “a major First Amendment case.”
The ACLU’s case stemmed from events where Mayor Baldelli-Hunt banned some of her “critics” from her Facebook page.
The suit was filed on behalf of two Woonsocket residents, who were blocked by the mayor after they raised questions about her official activities on it, according to the ACLU.
The ACLU is arguing that censorship violates the resident’s First Amendment right “to speak and petition the government for redress of grievances,”
“Just as public officials may not preclude persons from participating in the public-comment portion of a town hall meeting based on their viewpoints, Mayor Baldelli-Hunt cannot ban users from [her] Facebook page because she dislikes their opinions.”
It is said that Mayor Baldelli-Hunt banned the first resident after he challenged a post she made regarding the building of a local skate park in November.
The second instance is said to have happened after another resident asked about construction taking place at a local park.
Woonsocket City Solicitor John J. DeSimone told ABC6 Mayor Baldelli-Hunt considers the account her personal account, and it has no affiliation with the city “whatsoever.” DeSimone also said Mayor Baldelli-Hunt has allowed the residents access to her Facebook account again, “so this is a moot issue,” he said.