Cop Block: Fighting Law Enforcement Abuse

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March 25th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Updates on February 11, 2016 and September 1, 2016: A complainant has been filing unwarranted DMCA takedown notices against this website and many others, including the Chicago Tribune, to silence reporting of this story. Filing false DMCA takedown notices against “fair use” content can result in significant legal liability such as Diebold Inc. experienced when it was forced to pay out $125,000 damages and fees to an activist group against which they filed a clearly unreasonable DMCA takedown notice. See the end of the article for more details.

Update on July 31, 2017: This article, despite being legally permissible content in the United States, has been censored as the result of one of the two victims of the alleged police abuse described in the article filing a lawsuit against the web hosting company currently used by this website. This suit was filed in Canada because the litigant (hereinafter known as MR. INTERNET CENSOR) is a resident and citizen of Canada. Our web hosting company does not have a data center in Canada, but somehow could be sued because it has done business in Canada even though our understanding is that it did no business with [MR. INTERNET CENSOR].

The company settled because it was much cheaper to do so than to fight the suit out of the US, even though it believed the complaint was without merit and it would win in court. They indicated in Canada, the loser is supposed to pay the legal fees of the winner, but if the loser does not have sufficient financial resources then of course that will not happen in actual practice. The web hosting company believed litigating would run up large costs and even though they believed they would win, they also believed [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] would be unable to pay them damages.

It was exceedingly unfair of [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] to sue them. Web hosting companies are not supposed to micro-manage or censor the legal content of their customers’ websites. These companies function much as common carriers, and they should be treated as such.

Although we understand their business considerations, the decision to settle is imperfect. While it is cheaper for them in the short run, it may invite many more Canadian lawsuits against web hosting providers by those who don’t like something that is legal speech posted online by a customer. This should be of particular concern to the vast majority of web hosting companies and websites that are too small to have international legal departments and millions of dollars to spend on defending against such suits.

We were not notified by the web hosting provider until they settled the suit a week ago. They gave us an option to censor the plaintiff’s name and image or be terminated as a customer. They hoped we would censor and remain a customer.

So for the moment, we have been pushed into censoring content globally because of this Canadian court case despite the content being legal in the US, not being a party in the case, nor having any say or due process. That this can happen does not bode well for free speech on the Internet.

While not exactly the same, it is somewhat like the recent Canadian Supreme Court action against Google in which Canadian courts repeatedly directed Google to censor content despite it not being a party in the legal dispute. Given the alarming slippery slope potential of this, Google is taking action in US courts to block Canadian censorship of the entire Internet worldwide.

Canada ought to be ashamed of its growing role in global Internet censorship, and the rest of the world should be concerned about Canada’s overreach.

If you want the information censored from this article, visit the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the Arturo’s Taco beating incident. As a larger publisher with more resources, they have so far been strong enough to withstand [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]’s campaign to eradicate legal website content he doesn’t want others to see.

If this sort of Internet censorship is a concern or interest to you, see the end of this page for more discussion.

We’ve recently added an RSS feed for a new web site called Cop Block to our web page. We’re very supportive of the work of other writers and web sites that report on the corruption and misconduct by police, prosecutors, and courts. Our own writers and their families and friends have seen similar abuses in their communities and are outraged by the lawlessness and abuse perpetrated by governments against their citizens.

One recent story on the site that caught our attention is a police brutality incident in Chicago, Illinois, that we summarize below. Click on the title below to link back to Cop Block’s story.

Chicago police beating victim Matthew Clark
Clark After Beating

‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

The essence of this story is that two friends from the University of Chicago were eating at a restaurant, somehow triggered rage in plainclothes cops over a trivial issue, and then were beaten both by those cops and uniformed officers who showed up to respond to their 911 call.

University of Chicago lecturer Matthew Clark and a University of Chicago Ph.D. student (MR. INTERNET CENSOR) were eating at Arturo’s Tacos, a local Mexican restaurant. One of them reportedly put on his coat while near the door, apparently angering plainclothes cops waiting to leave the restaurant because it delayed them.

When they exited the restaurant, the cops proceeded to pile on top of and beat the men bloody. The men called 911, not understanding who was attacking them and wanting it to stop. Their pleas for help resulted in uniformed Chicago cops arriving on the scene to take over their beating from the plainclothes cops. A woman with the plainclothes cops warned the two to not resist because they were being beaten by cops.

To be clear, neither of the two were ever detained, arrested, or charged with any crime. They report that Chicago Police Department did nothing to bring the perpetrators to justice even though they were still on the scene. As Cop Block reports further:

(from Cops Beat Us Unconscious: Suit)

The two men were just about to leave Arturo’s Taco in Bucktown on February 7 at about 3 a.m., Clark recalled. He said [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] was putting on his coat as a group of three people were walking up to the register.

“One of the men gave a pretty aggressive shove to [first name of MR. INTERNET CENSOR],” Clark recalled. “And [first name of MR. INTERNET CENSOR] said, ‘I’m just putting my coat on, I’ll be out of the way in just a second.’ And everything seemed to be OK. They left. We paid for our meal. We walked out to the parking lot at that point and they were out there waiting for us.”

The officers officers began to yell at them aggressively, Clark said.

“We don’t want any trouble. Let’s just shake hands and calm down and everybody’ll go home. No problem,” Clark remembers saying to the men. “They wouldn’t accept it. They just initiated a physical attack at that point.”

He said the plainclothes officers held him down and beat him until he lost consciousness.

A surveillance camera captured part of the beating.

“As I was laying down and getting punched, this woman that was with them is telling me, ‘Quit resisting. They’re cops. They’re going to beat you,'” Clark said.

When [last name of MR. INTERNET CENSOR] attempted to stop the beating, according to the suit, the officers “responded by beating (him). (They) threw [last name of MR. INTERNET CENSOR] to the ground, hitting his head against the concrete and knocking him unconscious.”

The suit says that at least three uniformed police officers arrived on the scene in marked squad cars. At one point, one of the uniformed officers “switched places with the plainclothes officer who was on top of [last name of MR. INTERNET CENSOR], holding him down and striking him in the process,” according to the suit.

Another one of the uniformed officers allegedly kicked or kneed [MR. INTERNET CENSOR], the suit said.

Clark was “bleeding profusely from the wounds on his head” and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] “was also bleeding from the wounds on his face,” the suit said.

(from University of Chicago student, friend allege cop abuse)

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] said the alleged attackers didn’t have guns and weren’t wearing anything to identify them as cops. But he assumes they were off-duty cops because of the way they were treated by the uniformed officers and because a woman with them said something like: “They’re cops. They’re going to beat your ass.”

Cops: Pack Predators Who Consider Themselves Above the Law

The lessons learned here are that many cops believe they are above the law and that like a pack of vicious predators they will stick together even when it involves brutalizing, terrorizing, assaulting, and attacking anybody one of them decides to target for whatever reason, even something trivial like a minor delay. Such cops are criminals far worse than many gang members. They should be dealt with via termination of their jobs, black-listing them out of any role or employment in law enforcement, and prosecution for their crimes.

Lawsuit Against City of Chicago

Corrupt governments often disregard these types of abusive conduct by law enforcement. It is in their interests to do so as they are liable for the actions of the criminal cops they employ. The only remedy is a civil suit as prosecutors often won’t touch police misconduct cases unless government liability can be minimized.

Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] retained Chicago attorney Heather Lewis Donnell who filed Clark et al v. City of Chicago et al in US Federal Court on March 22, 2010, to hold the City of Chicago and any police officers involved responsible for police brutality and misconduct including civil rights and criminal violations against Matthew Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]. The parties named in the lawsuit include the City of Chicago, Officer Brian Postrelko, Officer Michael Torres, Officer Nelson Crespo, Officer Elise Middleton, Officer Rick Podgorny, Officer Angelique Martinez, and unknown plainclothes Chicago Police officers.

Video of Police Beating

Below you can see a video of part of the beating caught by a security camera outside the restaurant.


Video About Chicago Police Beating Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]

An extensive version of the beating video, complete with the uniformed cops arriving on the scene to take over restraining one of the victims, was available from CBS 2 but seems to have been taken down as was a video on the NBC Chicago website. Whether the cause is discarding old content or mass media sucking up to those in power, it is ashame that publicly available evidence has gone missing. [NOTE: After what has happened with the extensive censorship around this case, it seems likely that [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] is responsible for causing much of this material to disappear.]

If the allegations are accurate, we hope Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] will be successful with their suit. Furthermore, area prosecutors should wake up and pursue prosecution and the police department terminate all the police officers who were involved for assault, failure to file required reports, and failure to obtain medical assistance for injuries parties. The world is a dangerous enough place without predatory criminals in American police forces looking to terrorize anybody who offends them in even the most minor way.

Update on February 11, 2016

Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] have gone to great effort to expose Chicago Police Department for its abusive conduct. Beyond filing a lawsuit and spreading news of the incident widely to the public and media, they even offered a $10,000 reward for information about the beating.

In City of Silence in 2014, they gave a summary of their version of events and some of the aftermath.

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] has taken part in protests against Chicago police brutality and continued to write pieces about the experience and aftermath such as I was the victim of police brutality: How I survived my brush with death.

The City of Chicago settled the lawsuit by paying $185,000 in damages. Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] agreed to the settlement after what they describe as continuing harassment from Chicago police. They describe being tracked and confronted by police who they suspect were using GPS pinging to find them. They also describe an incident that appears to be a bullet being shot through a window into Clark’s condo while they were inside watching TV. The beatings and later incidents wrecked their sense of safety and left them doubtful they could ever trust the police, so they didn’t even call 911 regarding the suspected shooting. They also never learned who the plainclothes cops were.

While there are hopefully some Chicago cops who would regard this whole debacle as disgusting and reprehensible, the case shows that the Blue Wall of Silence is alive and well in the City of Chicago. Residents and visitors to Chicago should consider that the Chicago Police Department could assault you with no provocation or just cause. Until the cops who would not commit such crimes are willing to arrest and testify against the terrorists in their ranks, unfortunately all Chicago police should be regarded as dangerous. Do your best to stay away from the Chicago police. Perhaps consider avoiding visiting Chicago or moving away if you live there.

Recently we received email claiming to be from [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] (with no proof at all of his identity) that the pictures posted near the top of this article showing the beaten faces of Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] are somehow a “copyright violation” and must be taken down. You can see what this web page looked like at the beginning of 2016 prior to the many complaints and attacks coming from this person. Keep in mind, this was about six years after the page was originally posted.

Per US copyright law, these photos are clearly “fair use” in a news article and are not a copyright violation. Further, these photos were published widely in news articles and videos as direct result of the actions of the men at distributing them to raise media attention and let the public know of the beatings and obtain help in finding the identity of the culprits. One could argue that the photos were effectively released into the public domain many years ago. Aside from that, posting photographs such as these in a news story about widely reported beatings and a resultant lawsuit and settlement is clearly “fair use”. They continue to exist on other websites and in videos, despite how the email claims success at getting other websites such as Huffington Post to remove images of the beaten men.

Given the monumental efforts Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] have put into publicizing their beatings and trying to hold the Chicago Police Department accountable, a request to remove publicly accessible evidence of the crime seems highly inconsistent. One can’t help wonder if this email could be a tactic of other parties involved to slowly wipe out evidence of the horrific beating these men received. After all, those who control the present often try to rewrite history to be in their favor.

Update on September 1, 2016

Recently, the complainant, whoever it is (there are reasons to suspect he may not be who he claims to be), has escalated into sending invalid DMCA takedown notices to cause trouble for us and has made what appear to be libelous statements (such as accusing us of posting “potentially defamatory content and falsely claimed publicly on the website that I am law enforcement”) to our service providers with obvious intent to disrupt service. The complainer has also filed a DMCA takedown notice against the Chicago Tribune, and wisely they have kept the photograph up so the public can see the results of the beatings.

The complainant also seems to be busy at what appears to wipe out evidence of the police abuse by manipulating others, such as shown by these complaints that are attributed to [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]:

https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/12918347
https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/12724754
https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/12891859
https://www.lumendatabase.org/notices/12724744

If this complainer really is [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] who is now trying to help hide the evidence of the crime against him, one must wonder just what is going wrong with him to help out the police by threatening and intimidating others with DMCA takedown notices and unreasonable complaints to service providers? Why would he want to to hide the evidence of abuse?

The Internet media was a significant part of helping him win the case by putting public pressure on the Chicago government and he SOUGHT that help and made himself into a public figure over this case for years. That a victim of police abuse would work so hard at intimidating and threatening the same news media that tried to help him out in the first place would be appalling. Many of us are in this fight not for any money or profit but to help those abused by the government as we or those we love have been. To be lied about, threatened, and attacked by somebody we supported would be intolerable.

The actions appear unethical and look more like those of an abuser or harasser than a hero who dared to stand up against police abuse and won a significant victory with the help of many others. Hopefully it is not really [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] doing this, or if it is, he will come to his senses and knock it off.

Such behavior, whether it is [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] himself or somebody else pretending to be him, is a news-worthy story of its own and further justifies publishing the photographs as “fair use” plus additional information in articles on this site and others. That there are people who are so obsessed with attacking independent media web sites and causing trouble for them with inaccurate complaints in a pattern of harassment is very concerning, and does not bode well for protecting the interests of others who have been harmed by police abuse or government misconduct as Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] were.

Those who understand the widespread and troublesome nature of police abuse and have tried to stand up against it would wonder just what would be motivating a victim of police abuse beaten as the photos show to threaten and intimidate others by making false claims of copyright violations against what is obviously a news article complying with fair use doctrine, especially as the beating victims went to great effort to get that media exposure and acknowledged it helped them with their case.

Fair Use Doctrine and Copyright Law
The photo the complainer demands be removed appears to have been effectively put into the public domain several years ago as it was put onto or into many websites, videos, and TV news reports (dozens at least) due to the efforts of the parties portrayed in the photograph. The two people portrayed, Matthew Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR], claimed to have been beaten by off­-duty or plainclothes Chicago Police Department officers outside of a taco shop and wanted the public to know what happened.

They then filed a lawsuit against the department and reports are that it was settled for a significant sum ($185,000). The City of Chicago approved the settlement agreement with Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]. This is significant news. As it involves the government and police department, the citizens have a public interest right to know about such a dispute, who was involved, the nature of it, and evidence involved.

Matthew Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] also wrote how they sought publicity, as this quote shows:

Just weeks before we were supposed to go to trial in March 2013, the City of Chicago responded to our $185,000 settlement offer. Our attorneys said the government was worried about our proven ability to attract media attention. On the heels of several other high­ profile police ­violence cases, the people in charge didn’t look forward to a spring of headlines about cops participating in an assault and abandoning two men who’d been beaten to a pulp in a parking lot. (In November 2012, a jury ruled against both the city and an individual off­ duty cop in the 2007 beating of bartender Karolina Obrycka and she was awarded $850,000 in damages.)

Clearly they were intending to attract media attention, and they admit to it (“our proven ability to attract media attention”) in that article. The photograph in question is part of what attracted the media attention.

If the complainer is in fact the actual [MR. INTERNET CENSOR], he’s already thrown out any reasonable right to keep that photograph private by making it broadly public, making it into a big news story that was widely covered, and filing a lawsuit about the incident the photograph documents.

Other news media apparently agree with this assessment, as shown by how the photograph is still featured by a major Chicago newspaper along with discussion and public comments on the case.

The photograph is of legitimate public interest as it shows alleged criminal actions by Chicago Police Department officers over which a lawsuit was settled for a large sum of money. The photograph is not being used in a commercial for-­profit manner but rather in a news reporting manner. Therefore the distribution of this photograph accompanying a story about such police abuse falls clearly under fair­ use guidelines as shown by the quoted text below from Harvard University’s Beckman Center for Internet and Society:

If you use another’s copyrighted work for the purpose of criticism, news reporting, or commentary, this use will weigh in favor of fair use. See Campbell v. Acuff­Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569, 578 (1994). Purposes such as these are often considered “in the public interest” and are favored by the courts over uses that merely seek to profit from another’s work. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include ­­
1. the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
2. the nature of the copyrighted work;
3. the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole;
4. and the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

This use of the photograph is clearly news reporting and advocacy for the victims of police violence. It is clearly in the public interest for the public to be able to ascertain the kinds of injuries these men experienced and how the CPD settled the lawsuit. It may help other victims of police abuse stand up for themselves when they see somebody else was brave enough to do it and succeeded.

It seems to us that the real [MR. INTERNET CENSOR], if he is the principled person who stood up to the police abuse, would understand that and not being obsessively filing abusive DMCA takedown notices and writing complaints to so many web site and services providers for those websites. Those involved with this website have experienced hacking, impersonation, abusive law enforcement complaints to censor content, and many other stunts of unethical parties intent on causing trouble. So we have with good justification doubted the complainer’s identity from the outset.

Per factor 1, the photograph is not being used in a commercial nature and is clearly for educational purposes (news reporting).

Per factor 2, the photograph does not appear to have been produced for commercial purposes as was represented as factual, not fictional. It was widely published due to efforts of [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]. It is used in a news article, therefore is protected by fair­ use policy.

Per factor 3, it is not an excessive use of material such as a long quotation. Using less would obviously negate the news reporting purpose because the public would not be able to see how badly beaten these men were.

Per factor 4, there is very likely no marketable value to the photograph. If there is somehow a marketable value to the photograph, then in fact the widespread news reporting including the photograph are probably part of what created any such marketable value and therefore this favors fair­ use status.

There is no proof or adequate evidence of having a copyright on the photograph. The photograph could have easily been taken by another party, so who is to say the complainer has a valid copyright claim? Also, the complainer at times seems to be additionally asserting a copyright claim to the photograph of Matthew Clark which is even more questionable.

Identity should always be questioned when it comes to Internet complaints.

It is routine practice of dishonest and/or abusive people and organizations to file copyright complaints against material on which they do not even hold a copyright or which falls entirely under fair­ use guidelines. They do this to intimidate and censor content on the Internet. For example, there have been incidents in which videos on YouTube have been taken down due to alleged copyright violations when in fact the videos were produced by the person who posted them on YouTube and did not contain copyrighted content (or even any content) from other parties. These false copyright claims have become a serious problem for Google.

It is also not uncommon for troublemakers to hack another’s email account and impersonate them to induce others to take actions they may not want, such as to cease communications or take down material or to induce fraud. It is also very easy to set up an email account that appears to plausibly belong to another person.

There is plenty of reason to doubt the legitimacy of these complaints and demands.

This complainant has also been telling Internet service providers that this website is engaging in defamation. Statements have to be false to be legally considered defamation. Simply not liking something written or said about you does not make it defamation. What does the article say that is not accurate or differs significantly from other news reports or court documents? He doesn’t say, just alleges vague defamation, altering photographs, etc. in what appears could be intentional libel against this website for purposes of inducing censorship.

As The Free Dictionary defines it, defamation is:

Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.

Additionally, public figures are afforded less protection from defamation even if there are false statements made. The parties involved here clearly went to great effort to make themselves public figures widely reported upon in Internet and traditional media not only in Chicago but around the nation and even world. Courts have often held that government and public officials have little protection from defamation.

How could it be defamation to accurately report on a police abuse case which was settled by the city involved for $185,000 when the victims made themselves public figures for years over this issue?

The party who has been making false statements about this website in complaints to service providers in an effort to censor content and cause problems for its operations clearly does not respect freedom of the press or freedom of speech.

The complainer has also been making false and misleading statements and distortions in these complaints. For example, he/she wrote “site owner retaliated by posting significantly more outdated, potentially defamatory content and falsely claimed publicly on the website that I am law enforcement” and his statements impugns our reputations so his written words aimed to cause damage could be construed as libel. Nowhere has this website ever alleged that [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] is a law enforcement officer, so if the statement is true then it implies he/she is not [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]. Otherwise, it is false.

Posting links to other coverage and articles that back up the details in this article is not “retaliation”, it is a defense against this attacker.

Courts have consistently held that linking to copyrighted material is not a copyright violation.

Stale links are not any kind of legal violation. This happens all the time as websites are modified over time. Some websites discard or lose old materials. In this case, it seems that the complainer is inducing others who are not familiar with the law to hide, delete, and alter material that is lawful and should be available to the public.

Overall, the chronic complainer is engaging in what appears to us to be annoyance and even intimidation and harassment to censor content that is of legitimate public interest and is lawful and is doing this simply because the complainer doesn’t want others to see it.

Liability for False DMCA Takedown Notices and Tortious Interference

Per US law, filing false DMCA takedown notices against a website that is making fair use of material can subject the complainer to significant legal liability. In the case Online Policy Group v. Diebold, Diebold tried to suppress fair use reporting of its leaked internal email archives. The court protected Online Policy Group’s fair use of that material because “no reasonable copyright holder could have believed that [they] were protected by copyright”. Contrast that with this case in which the people portrayed in the photographs actively distributed them to news media to gain attention, alert and involve the public, and gain help at identifying the culprits.

Diebold ended up paying the Online Policy Group $125,000 in damages and fees. It was a settlement, but obviously motivated by the court’s ruling over the alleged copyright violation being so ridiculous just as it is in the offensive attempt to censor news reporting and hide the evidence of police abuse from the public.

This is based upon this section of DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act):

17 U.S.C. § 512(f). “Any person who knowingly materially misrepresents under [17 U.S.C. § 512] that material or activity is infringing … shall be liable for any damages, including costs and attorneys’ fees, incurred by the alleged infringer…who is injured by such misrepresentation, as the result of the service provider relying upon such misrepresentation in removing or disabling access to the material or activity claimed to be infringing….”

In addition, the false complainer is also subject to civil action for libel and tortious interference.

Update on July 31, 2017: Internet Censorship Courtesy of Canada

Sadly, it has turned out the obsessive complainer was actually [MR. INTERNET CENSOR], one of the two men allegedly beaten by Chicago police.

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] has been on a quest for more than a year to scrub his name and images of his injuries from web sites. He somehow thinks such content is “defamation”.

Previously Google denied his DMCA take down notice against us and the Chicago Tribune over this legal content which he now so dislikes. The evidence of this is how both of our articles are still in Google’s search results and near the top.

To give you an idea of how much effort he has put into his censorship campaign, he claims “90 websites have assisted him in removing outdated articles on this case.” How much time would it take to do this, especially if anybody even slightly questioned his requests and demands?

By outdated, he seems to mean anything that is not recent publication and/or which he does not want others to see. It is alarming that so many websites would just remove content, and goes to show that information on the Internet can be mostly wiped away just by a single person being persistently annoying enough to push others to delete or change it.

Whether you call it obsessive or not, he is clearly very intent on scrubbing history. Yet it is a history which he himself sought and benefited from having published extensively on the web by the way it put pressure on Chicago to settle his lawsuit.

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] refused to accept that we would not censor content despite our reasonable explanation, so he proceeded complain and complain to anybody he could find.

Instead of censoring what he did not like, we instead updated this page with information on the $185,000 Chicago settlement, links to other coverage of the story to show we are not defaming him or making unreasonable use of any content, and added discussion about fair use doctrine regarding content such as the images of the beaten men. Such pictures help a reader to understand that this was not just some minor scratch or bruise from a single strike. The two men pictured appear to have been beaten for some time and with clear intent to cause harm. You can view the state of the web page in February 2017 after these updates on The Wayback Machine.

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] proceeded to sue our web hosting provider to shut us up because we did not do as he demanded. He filed what we and they view as a merit-less lawsuit in Canada in a way that denied us even a word to defend against his false claims by going after another party that is not responsible.

In his lawsuit, he calls updating the article as described above as “retaliation” and whines “cyberbully” and “defamation” and “victim” throughout his filing.

He also claims that “The act of linking to more assault related content is a clear form of retaliation pursuant to his request for removal.”

Seriously? He actually thinks there is something wrong with defending our writing by showing that others have reported much the same information and even used the same picture?

The opening text of his filing includes:

This claim is being filed on behalf of [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] regarding the ongoing cyberbullying and defamation by the web domain www.angiemedia.com. This website is now being used as an outlet for posting libelous statements regarding [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]’s identity.

“Libelous” is a serious accusation to a journalist or content creator. Yet not once does he point to any actually false statement. Sounds like emotional manipulations rather than any evidence.

Nor does he consider just how rare it is for an actual victim of wrongful police violence to successfully stand up to it and get even a bit of justice. Unarmed and even sometimes totally innocent people are being beaten up and even shot in the back by police in incidents across the US, and too often the police entirely get away with it. This time, the story was different, and the inspiration that could provide to others is valuable. But [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] does not seem to care about that, even though he says he’s marched in protests against police violence.

He goes on with claims such as “Given the advocacy work on www.angiemedia.com (i.e., gun possession with content around this individual’s own serious psychological ailments)…” that are severe distortions of reality apparently designed to falsely influence the court.

Aside from a handful of articles in which guns are mentioned because they were used to commit a crime, there are to my knowledge only FOUR gun related articles on this web site as of this writing in its roughly 9 years in existence. One of them is about how it is irresponsible to publish a list of the names and addresses of handgun owners in New York because of the crimes it could cause such as targeting particular addresses either because they don’t have guns and are less likely to be able to defend themeslves or because they want to steal the guns. Another points out that it takes a person to shoot a gun and that many of the people involved in mass shootings are drugged up on SSRI anti-depressants that are known to cause violent behavior, and questions if these widely used dangerous drugs are responsible for much mass violence. The third and fourth are about the sad story of a Texas doctor whose live was ruined because he had a gun collection and then his ex-wife filed what appears to be a fallacious DVTRO against him, the order said nothing about him turning in his guns, and yet she told the police to go arrest him for having guns and they did. Then the Clinton Administration decided to make an example out of him, possibly for political purposes given their historic stance against the US Constitution’s 2nd Amendment.

How are those unreasonable stories to a reasonable person who has actually looked into the issues?

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] is apparently accusing this writer and/or others associated with this website, despite not knowing them or anything much about them, of having “serious psychological ailments”. That sounds far more like libelous writing to me than anything we have published about him.

Are you getting the picture that this guy spends a lot of time acting like the cast iron pot accusing the stainless steel kettle of being black?

He was previously shouting his story out to the world, yet in his filing he claims “This content is creating an extraordinary, undue burden on a professional with an online reputation as a crime victim.” Did he ever consider that HE HIMSELF created his online reputation as a crime victim? We would never have heard about him if his name and involvement in alleged police abuse were not already all over the Internet in 2010.

One of the people he had contact this website was a law school student at Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law who wrote “requesting the removal of mugshot and story for [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]”. She also wrote “While the article clearly and accurately portrays [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] as a victim of police brutality, the story has become damaging for [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]’s career prospects and personal life. We respectfully request that you remove this article immediately.”

This statement admits that we are not defaming him. An article that is “clearly and accurately” portraying information is truthful. Defamation requires falsehoods. Truth is said to be an absolute defense.

The standards to prove defamation are much higher for people who have made themselves into public figures. He clearly made himself into a public figure. [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] went to great effort to publicize his problems with the police and caused stories to be published in both traditional and online media, both in well-known media publications (Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times and some Chicago TV stations) as well as less well known smaller players such as Cop Block and this web site.

He also sued the City of Chicago, making the whole case very public.

A mugshot is an official photo, particularly the one made when somebody is booked on arrest. That’s not what we published, and in fact he was not arrested so why would there be a mugshot? The photo was of his bloodied and bruised face after being beaten, the same photo used by other media sources after he and others involved with him spread it in order to get media coverage of their plight. The photo does not even much look like others of him online as it is a side view of his face with blood and bruises all over.

He claims the Internet content has ruined his career. He writes “All evidence points to the persistence of online information pertaining to the 2010 crime as the main and sole
reason that employment has been so exceptionally difficult to attain.”

Yet he has teaching positions at two Canadian academic institutions. From his social media accounts, he appears to travel all over the world even in 2017. He seems to be way better off than many are.

Perhaps his claimed career problems revolve around his choice of profession and his personal actions or behaviors rather than anything the media has published about him?

He has a Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. According to content he has put online, he has specialized in part in studying Italian fascists, as shown by his paper “Policing the 1942 World’s Fair in Rome: Fascist Image Management and Cultural Diplomacy.” While studying history is certainly a worthwhile endeavor, a Ph.D. in History might offer access to a relatively small range of positions in history departments of higher academic institutions such as colleges and universities. Given many of the staff are tenured, how many new positions open up each year?

Some others with Ph.D.’s whom I have personally known have had challenges finding jobs even when they graduated from top-notch schools. If they could work in industry, with a degree in something widely applicable such as a science or engineering field, it was much easier for them to find employment even when there were few positions available in academia. But how many industries hire history Ph.D.’s?

The rapid increases in college tuitions (which has been far beyond inflation for decades) has slowed after the US government put a limit on student loan expansion in 2008. Could the no longer skyrocketing tuitions have influenced these institutions to offer fewer jobs in history departments?

Many recent articles cite miserable employment outlook for people with degrees such as his.

In 2013, the Atlantic wondered Why Haven’t Humanities Ph.D. Programs Collapsed? and points out the “job prospects for new Ph.D.’s in fields like history and English are miserable, yet students keep signing up for their shot at the ivory tower.”

In 2014, Slate published The Unending Horror of the Humanities Job Market, in One Chart about the job prospects for Ph.D. students in humanities (including history) being quite poor compared to those in the sciences.

In 2016, the American Historical Association’s article The Troubled Academic Job Market for History included a graph showing the job advertisements for historians in 2008, just as you might expect from the halt in the rising student loan limits mentioned earlier. They also say a wave of history professor retirements ended in 2008 and as of 2015 the faculty tends to be much younger and much further from retirement, so there are far fewer job openings.

Such reasons he has had trouble finding employment are quite plausible, and there are so many of them. But [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] prefers to blame us and vex our business partners and us with complaints, false accusations, and the intimidation of a lawsuit.

As far as his practice as a historian goes, most disturbing is how he has apparently learned to apply the tactics of distortion and intimidation so often used by the fascists he loves to study. What he wrote in the Canadian court filing is appallingly inaccurate, self-serving, and unsupported by facts. After reading that, I for one would never trust any version of “history” he said, wrote, or taught.

[MR. INTERNET CENSOR] spoke on a panel in Chicago in November 2013 about stopping police crimes to extend and defend democracy. This was another example of him publicizing his case. By his actions, he clearly does not understand that censoring legal speech does not extend democracy. He seems to believe the rights of others end when their speech does not serve him. Maybe he did so much reading about fascists that it deeply damaged his way of thinking?

Another party involved with [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] offered to pay us to take down content. That sounds a bit too much like the sort of corrupting influence associated with editorial decisions in other media for somebody with a reasonable sense of integrity to participate. So no interest was expressed in accepting that money, and the content was also not changed or removed.

Our web hosting provider believed the suit was without merit, but decided to settle with the [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] as a business decision because it was expensive to fight a court battle outside of the US in a foreign court system. This kind of abusive litigation against hosting companies to censor legal content of a customer is an example of the serious problems with abusive litigation that is producing a chilling effect on Internet freedom of speech.

It was exceedingly unfair of [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] to sue them. Web hosting companies are not supposed to micro-manage or censor the legal content of their customers’ websites. These companies function much as common carriers, and they should be treated as such.

For him to sue them is like somebody suing the telephone company because a caller said on a phone call that the somebody looked frighteningly bloodied up after he got beat up and them this somebody contends the discussion adversely affected his career and life because he didn’t get a job he wanted after that phone call happened. How is that the telephone company’s fault?

US and EU laws are designed to limit Internet Service Provider liability for information provided by their customers. As CyberTelecom’s page on liability issues points out:

In the United States and the EU, telecommunications and Internet Service Providers enjoy explicit limitations on liability for the actions of users on their networks. Without such liability protections, carriers could be subject to broad-based legal attacks for the actions of users over which they have no knowledge or control. This would make the business unacceptably risky. The United States dealt with this issue in the copyright context in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which explicitly provided protection from infringement liability to Internet Service Providers.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation points out that ISPs per section 230 of the Communications Decency Act are not liable for information provided by another information content provider. A web hosting company is providing hardware, bandwidth, and maybe some software, but in general is not providing content. So by that reasoning it should not be liable even if there were actual copyright and defamation problems with the content.

But as is discussed at length above, there is plenty of reason to believe that the widely distributed images of the beaten men fall under “fair use” and the defamation claim in ridiculous as the article was accurate, [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] has not shown otherwise, he made himself a public figure, and there was clearly no malice as the whole article was written to report on alleged police misconduct against [MR. INTERNET CENSOR] and portrayed him in a neutral to positive light.

Previous to the many complaints and the merit-less Canadian lawsuit, I thought that the photo he now desperately wants to censor was good evidence of his mistreatment by the police and that his willingness to speak up against police misconduct was brave.

The $185,000 settlement with the City of Chicago may not have been full justice for the men, but it was at least a step in the right direction. It gave reason to hope that others bullied by police might be inspired to take action to hold them accountable.

But after his recent actions, it seems to me this has unfortunately become a story of the bullied becoming the bully.

Further Reading

CopBlock: ‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

Chicago’s Approves Settlement Agreement with Clark and [MR. INTERNET CENSOR]

Lew Rockwell: ‘They’re Cops; They’re Going to Beat You’

University of Chicago student, friend allege cop abuse

Cops Beat Us Unconscious: Suit

Pair Allegedly Beaten By Plainclothes Cops Tell Their Story In Vice

Video Shows Cop Assault on Student

New video released in police brutality case

Chicago Mayor Proposes Scrapping Police Accountibility Board For Civilian Investigative Agency

Chicago City Officials Have Acknowledged The Thin Blue Line; Will Other Cities Join Them?

Vancouver Police Brutalize Innocent Civilians

Why You Should Never Talk With Police And Law Enforcement

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