FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JACKSON, Miss. – On January 6, 2021, the ACLU of Mississippi sent letters to warn five public officials/entities that by blocking members of the public from their official social media accounts, they were violating the First Amendment.
The ACLU of Mississippi received complaints from individuals whose comments – which expressed viewpoints that were critical of several elected officials – were deleted and their accounts subsequently blocked and banned from the official pages. Governor Tate Reeves, Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, Mayor Hal Marx, Congressman Steven Palazzo, and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department were all accused to be in violation.
As of February 19, 2021, the ACLU of MS has the following updates:
- Congressman Palazzo and the Jones County Sheriff’s Department responded to our letter saying they have unblocked everyone and are reviewing social media policies to ensure compliance with all laws.
- Mayor Marx said he would discontinue his official Facebook page.
- Governor Reeves unblocked the individual who made a complaint to our office.
- The City of Jackson Attorney’s Office has been in contact with ACLU of MS to resolve the issue with both the City of Jackson and Mayor Lumumba’s official pages.
“We are happy to know these officials take seriously the impacts their social media have on constituents. Once a public official/entity begins communicating with the public via social media, that page then becomes a public forum. Banning or blocking constituents from an official page is the same as locking them out of a public meeting,” ACLU of Mississippi Legal Director Joshua Tom said.
The ACLU of Mississippi has also sent a letter to Senator Roger Wicker, who is also accused of violating the First Amendment. We are awaiting a response.