Man Arrested for Post-Zimmerman Facebook 'Threat'

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By Brett Snider, Esq. on July 24, 2013 12:04 PM

A 20-year-old New York man was arrested for allegedly making a "terroristic threat" on Facebook after the George Zimmerman verdict.

Remel Newson, a Queens resident, posted an angry Facebook message full of misspellings about how blacks cannot get justice, including the phrase "let's kill cops nd neighborhood watcher," reports The Huffington Post.

Angry posts on Facebook are nothing new, but does this sort of message rise to the level of a terroristic threat?

Incendiary Facebook Post

Like many Americans, Newson was likely upset after learning about the acquittal of George Zimmerman for the killing of Trayvon Martin, a case that was tightly entangled with racial enmity and criticism of the criminal justice system.

Unlike most Americans, Newson was arrested four days after the Zimmerman verdict for posting his inflammatory status update. His post -- which included the attempted hashtag "#killall whites" -- was deemed a terroristic threat by police, HuffPo reports.

Terroristic Threat?

Under New York law, Newson could potentially be found guilty of making a terroristic threat if he:

  • Intended to intimidate or coerce civilians or to affect the conduct of a government unit;
  • Threatened to commit murder, assassination, or kidnapping; and
  • Created a reasonable expectation or fear of those crimes imminently being committed.

Newson's attorney believes that her client lacked the required intent to commit the crime, asserting that he simply "copied and pasted" the message from elsewhere, reports New York's WNYC radio.

Without the intent to intimidate, Newson could not be held for terroristic threats, no matter how caustic his statements might be in the current political or social climate.

Other Facebook 'Threats'

Newson isn't the only young Facebooker who has been hauled in based on alleged "threats" made online.

A Texas teenager, Justin Carter, made a joking Facebook post about "[shooting] up a school full of kids" and was treated to several months in jail as he awaited adjudication for his terroristic threat charge, a post that also included "lol" and "jk."

While Carter was released July 11 after his family raised the $500,000 for bail, his father says that prior to being released, his son was on suicide watch, reports HuffPo.

While Newson and Carter await their terroristic threat charges, some individuals have used Facebook to start violent "fan" pages with names like "Kill George Zimmerman." While such pages may violate Facebook's community policies, they have not yet generated any arrests, NewMediaRockstars reports.

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