St. Louis Cop Under Investigation After Calling Ferugson Protester’s Employer To Get Her Fired
A St.Louis police officer called an activist’s boss in an attempt to get her fired, so she filed a formal complaint “to return the favor.” According to the officer’s union he was within his rights.
The police department says it is investigating the matter.
[su_center_ad]Leigh Maibes, a real estate agent who tweets under the alias “Short Stack” has been active on social media during the Ferguson protests. She posted a link on Wednesday to a YouTube video of a phone conversation with Officer Keith Novara in which she questions why the officer called and texted her boss regarding her Tweets about police tactics used during protests, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“To me this feels like intimidation,” Maibes, a real estate for a RE/MAX brokerage, said.
Novara is heard on the video saying, “I let them know, yes.”
According to Novara, he was giving the broker a “heads up” and communicating with him as part of his responsibilities as a South Patrol officer.
Novara added that he was warning the activist’s’ boss that the phones at the business might be “blowing up,” from people upset about her tweets.
“Why did you think it was your place to do that?” Maibes asks.
“Some of the tweets that I was seeing were inciteful,” Novara said. “That’s why I just wanted to let him know.”
It was only a matter of hours of Novara posting the video that other Twitter users posted her cell number, photo and email address.
According to the Dispatch, Novara retained a lawyer through the St. Louis Police Officers Association. The police department confirmed that Novara was under investigation but he has not been suspended.
The police association’s business manager, Jeff Roorda, said in a statement on Thursday that Novara’s speech was protected under the First Amendment and that he was only “setting the record straight on public statements made by people spreading irresponsible lies and calling for violence against the police.”
“It is confounding to us as an organization of law enforcement professionals that apologists for the so-called ‘peaceful protestors’ in Ferguson and the Shaw neighborhood defend throwing bricks, bottles and rocks at police officers as ‘freedom of speech or freedom of expression’”, the statement continued. “Then, those very same people feign righteous indignation when a police officer who is fed up with the corrosive, anti-police rhetoric that this particular agitator has made in a public forum on social media, exercises his freedom of speech and freedom of expression in a truly peaceful manner.”
As for Maibes’ right to speak out, Mittman suggested that it would be improper for Novara to interfere in his capacity as a police officer. In the video, Novara appears to indicate that he was.
“If a government actor is retaliating against someone who is engaged in First Amendment activity, that is not lawful,” Jeffrey Mittman, executive director for the ACLU of Missouri said.
According to Alan J. Howard, a professor emeritus at the St. Louis University School of Law, it doesn’t seem that Novara “was trying to participate in some public debate.”
“It seems like he said, ‘I was wearing my police officer’s hat when I made that phone call,’” Howard said. “That actually hurts his case.”
I have the officer's number on the shot sent from my broker. I cropped it out. He also left voice mails. pic.twitter.com/V26DgslSIR
— Short Stack (@stackizshort) October 15, 2014