A Wisconsin MP threatened to arrest a teenager for COVID-19 social media posts in March 2020.
Amyiah Cohoon had published an article about her experience with what she and her doctors believed to be COVID-19.
A judge ruled on Friday that the threat violated Cohoon’s First Amendment law.
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A Wisconsin teenager has won a lawsuit against a sheriff and his deputy who allegedly threatened to jail her if she did not remove a social media post about her COVID-19 experience in March 2020, the Wausau Daily Herald reported.
U.S. District Judge Brett Ludwig on Friday ruled student Amyiah Cohoon’s free speech rights had been violated.
“Requiring a 16-year-old to remove protected speech from her Instagram account is a First Amendment violation,” Ludwig said in the ruling.
According to court documents, Cohoon, after returning from a spring vacation trip to Florida with the Westfield Area High School group on March 15, 2020, suspected she had been infected with the coronavirus. On March 26, she published an article about her illness, including a photo of herself wearing an oxygen mask in a hospital.
Cohoon had tested negative, but her doctors suspected she had likely been infected earlier and missed the window for testing, according to court documents.
On March 27, 2020, Marquette County Sheriff Joseph Konrath dispatched a sergeant. Cameron Klump at Coohon. Klump then reportedly threatened Cohoon with arrest if she didn’t delete the messages. Cohoon cut the posts at Klump’s request.
Cohoon’s attorney Luke Berg told The Associated Press in April 2020 that school administrator Bob Meicher called Konrath about the publications. Cohoon’s parents have also reportedly contacted the parents of other students during the trip to warn them of the possible exposure.
Meicher then sent a message to families in the district saying “there was a rumor that one of our students contracted COVID-19 during the group’s trip to Florida two weeks ago” and “he didn’t. there is NO truth to that ”.
The Wausau Daily Herald reported that Cohoon sued Konrath and Klump in April 2020, alleging they violated his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights.
Konrath and Klump tried to have the case closed, reported the Wausau Daily Herald. They said they reasonably believed his posts were causing “significant turmoil, anxiety, fear, worry and even panic among other citizens,” which gave Klump a reason. likely to accuse him of disorderly conduct.
Ludwig ruled that their concern was not strong enough to constitute probable cause and said their actions could infringe freedom of expression.
“The First Amendment is not a framework for the government to turn on and off. It applies in times of tranquility and conflict,” Ludwig wrote in the ruling.
“While the defendants in this case may have believed their actions were serving the greater good, that belief cannot isolate them. Requiring a 16-year-old to remove protected speech from her Instagram account is a violation of the First Amendment . “
In a press release, Berg, Cohoon’s attorney said, “This ruling emphasizes that First Amendment rights cannot be enforced in an emergency. More importantly, law enforcement has no not trying to regulate social media posts by local teens. “
Konrath and Meicher did not respond to Insider’s request for comment at the time of posting.
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