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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO — The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a lawsuit today on behalf of a Second Amendment advocate whose free speech rights were violated. Last July, Jordan Klaffer was forced to remove social media postings criticizing a police officer in southeast Missouri.
Klaffer is a gun owner who frequently fires his gun at objects on private property. On May 1, 2013, Jerry Bledsoe, a police officer, confronted Klaffer while responding to a noise complaint. Klaffer videotaped the interaction, where Bledsoe issued an ultimatum to Klaffer to surrender his guns or be arrested. Klaffer refused to give up his guns and was arrested for disturbing the peace.
To express his opinion that Officer Bledsoe was using his position to harass him for exercising his Second Amendment rights, Klaffer posted recordings of the May 1 encounter on YouTube and Facebook. And, on Instagram, he posted a picture of Bledsoe alongside a photo of Saddam Hussein, with the caption "Striking Resemblance."
Officer Bledsoe retaliated by obtaining a court order that prevented Mr. Klaffer from posting videos, pictures, and text data criticizing Officer Bledsoe on the Internet. "A government order prohibiting criticism of government is the worst kind of censorship," explains Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri.
"Gun advocates who fear the government is infringing on the Second Amendment have every right to broadcast their beliefs," says Jeffrey A. Mittman, the ACLU of Missouri’s executive director. "The ACLU will always push back against government censorship."
A copy of the complaint, and a link to Mr. Klaffer’s YouTube video, are available on the ACLU of Missouri’s website.
The ACLU of Missouri is a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to defending and expanding the constitutional rights and civil liberties of all Missourians guaranteed by the U.S. and Missouri Constitutions, and is an affiliate of the national ACLU.