Cop Says Social Media is to Blame for Terrorism and Shootings of Police

Mike Heuer | Courthouse News Service

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A police officer who responded to the 2016 mass shooting in Dallas that killed five of his colleagues last year has sued Facebook, Twitter and Google, accusing their services of conspiring to aid and abet terrorism.

Dallas Police Sgt. Demetrick Pennie was not shot during the July 7, 2016, carnage, but he was a first responder and is president of the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.

Pennie filed a 62-page federal lawsuit Tuesday, accusing the tech giants of conspiracy, aiding and abetting and providing material support to terrorism.

It’s not the first such lawsuit blaming social media for supporting terrorism, though none have been successful.

Pennie’s attorney, Keith Altman, of Southfield, Mich., filed a lawsuit in December on behalf three victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, that killed 49 people.

“We can’t keep seeing these terrorist acts … all of which have a social media connection,” Altman said. He speculated that that Twitter, Facebook and Google will claim no liability for the content of posts and said he expects the issue eventually will go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Micah Johnson killed five Dallas police officers and injured nine as a protest over police killings of black men in other states was ending. Johnson, Afghan war veteran, was particularly upset by the police killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philandro Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn. Police killed Johnson by detonating a remotely operated bomb.

Pennies claims in his lawsuit that “without defendants Twitter, Facebook and Google (YouTube), Hamas’ ability to radicalize and influence individuals to conduct terrorist operations outside the Middle East would not have been possible.”

Citing the Brookings Institution, Pennie says, “ISIS ‘has exploited social media, most notoriously Twitter, to send its propaganda and messaging out to the world and to draw in people vulnerable to radicalization.’”

He claims the defendants enable ISIS to “‘exert an outsized impact on how the world perceives it, by disseminating images of graphic violence (including beheading of Western journalists and aid workers) … while using social media to attract new recruits and inspire lone actor attacks.’”

The lawsuit cites FBI Director James Comey and says, “ISIS has perfected its use of defendants’ sites to inspire small-scale individual attacks ‘to crowdsource terrorism’ and ‘to sell murder.’”

Pennie blames the “astonishing rate” of growth of ISIS on this crowdsourced terrorism. He cites two Hamas Twitter accounts dating to 2010, one with 281,000 followers and the other with 9,593, and says well-known ISIS and Hamas members have maintained accounts.

Pennie says Hamas also has used Facebook and Google’s YouTube, and that all the companies are “fully aware that Hamas and other extremist groups use their sites to conduct terrorist operations.”

He claims Hamas has extended its marketing reach via social media, which it has used for fund raising, and that Facebook shares advertising revenues with the terrorist organization.

He seeks declaratory judgment that the defendants violate the Anti-Terrorism Act, and damages for conspiracy, aiding and abetting and prviding material support to terrorism, and emotional distress.

Altman, with the 1-800-Law-Firm, said any money Pennie might win in the case would go to the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation.

Twitter, Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment Wednesday morning.

Published by Courthouse News Service.

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Filming Cops
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Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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  • Cliff

    Maybe if cops would stop doing fucked up things on video, them maybe people would stop taking shots at them. You know, cause and effect and that sort of thing.

    • Melodydmorgan

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  • Mustafa Curtess

    This will be interesting. I hope that it does get to SCOTUS. The notion that the free exposure of the abuses of the public is responsible for public response to that abuse. One wonders: Is a crime not comitted unless it is exposed? Equally ridiculous is the notion that a communication system is responsible if criminals use it? “Back in the day” – that “Ma Bell” was a co-conspirator each time Mafia members spoke among themselves by telephone. If higher courts support the plaintiff on this one, folks, we can no longer pretend that the USA is anything other than a Fascist Police State. Oddly: While unquestioning support of “law enforcement” identifies with Conservatism – this complaint stinks of extreme Liberalism. If the law enforcement community objects to public rejection to its abuses – the obvious solution seems to be the cessation of the abuse – and a good-faith in-house program to “police” themselves. At the moment – any police officer can depend on the “fraternal” protection af any damn thing he wants to do. Would be an entirely beneficial thing if he could know that he will be left “twisting in the wind” for any mis-conduct. What is so outrageous about the notion that cops need to earn the trust and respect the community places in them – when we give them guns, badges, lethal authority, and paychecks?

  • WhoDat

    Textbook snowflake.