Texas Teen Arrested For Posting A Picture Of Himself Pointing A Toy Gun At A Cop Car On Twitter
A Texas teen has been arrested for making “terrorist threats” after posting a picture of someone – presumably himself – pointing a gun at a Fort Worth police cruiser on Twitter, Lubbock Online is reporting.
Montrae Toliver, 17, was taken into custody Monday night after the tweet was brought to the attention of Fort Worth police. In the tweet, a gun that appears to be a pellet gun is pointed at a Fort Worth police car off in the distance, along with a caption.
“Should I do it? They don’t care for a black male anyways!”
In another tweet that followed, Toliver stated that the gun in question was an Airsoft replica, according to CBS Dallas.
“Everyone is Posting The Pic of The One Picture But No one Will Post The One That’s Right Before It That Shows Its an Airsoft.”
Both tweets have been removed from the Texas teen’s Twitter account.
Even though the gun was a toy, the Fort Worth Police Department was not amused. Spokesperson Tamara Pena confirmed that although investigators determined that the gun in the photo was a toy, the teen still made a terrorist threat.
“Either way, it’s a threat. And so it’s going to be looked into.”
The Texas teen’s case is remarkably similar to a case in Massachusetts. In the Massachusetts case, 24-year-old Charles DiRosa of Chicopee posted the phrase “Put wings on pigs” on Facebook, according to this Inquisitr report. DiRosa’s post copied the last words of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who murdered two NYPD officers – Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu – in broad daylight before taking his own life. Chicopee police took DiRosa’s post as a threat, and he, too, was arrested for making terrorist threats.
Both cases raise questions about how the First Amendment’s protections of free speech apply to alleged threats made on social media. Washington Post writer Eugene Volokh points out that DiRosa’s post would be protected by the First Amendment.
“But DiRosa’s Facebook comment is likely protected by the First Amendment, unless there are more facts that aren’t being reported. It isn’t punishable incitement of crime — to fit within the incitement exception, speech must be intended to and likely to produce imminent unlawful conduct, as opposed to just being “advocacy of illegal action at some indefinite future time.” And this post, even if it is intended as advocacy of murder, is indeed advocacy of murder at some indefinite future time (as opposed to in the coming hours).”
In the meantime, however, Montrae Toliver is still facing felony charges for his alleged threat. It is unclear, as of this post, if he has made bail or if he has an attorney.
Do you believe the Texas teen’s post is an actual threat and a crime that should be punished? Or is it merely a rather graphic way of expressing his beliefs? Sound off in the Comments below.