Hamilton Township trustee sued for blocking people on Facebook
HAMILTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKRC) - Whether it’s to “like” or to vent, Facebook is the place to go for millions worldwide. However, in Warren County, a Hamilton Township Trustee is being sued for censoring opinions on Facebook that differ from his own.
On David Wallace Jr.'s Facebook page, he often posts township business, meeting schedules, police and fire statistics and announcements like road closures and water boil advisories. It’s the forum Wallace uses to communicate with residents, but five of them are now suing, claiming Wallace is violating their freedom of speech rights.
"It seems like Mr. Wallace only likes to keep the ones on there that are affirmative to how he feels about things,” said Lisa Wilson. That's not how government is supposed to work. It's supposed to be that we can go and exchange ideas. My point is if you feel so strongly about your position than you should be able to vigorously defend it. you can't do that if you silence everybody."
Wilson is one of the plaintiff’s in the lawsuit and says she was blocked from sharing and commenting on Wallace’s public official Facebook page in 2015. According to the lawsuit the banning and deleting of posts starting after discussion about privatizing the fire department started.
"Several people asked about that on his Facebook page and the comments and questions were deleted and then we were blocked so that we couldn't access him as our elected official,” said Wilson.
The blocked and banned comments are typically those disagreeing with a stance or decision by Wallace. However, others have been banned for asking questions.
"The frustrating part about it is that you have a trustee that is sitting that has silenced people and said that certain things are not able to be discussed in meetings,” said resident Fritz Nelson. “It's unacceptable that first amendment rights are infringed upon especially in a trustee meeting."
After the meeting Wallace said he hadn’t seen the lawsuit and wouldn’t comment specifically on it. However he did say he was not surprised because it’s an election year adding “This is what happens when you drain the swamp.”
Kentucky’s Governor Matt Bevin is also facing a similar lawsuit in the commonwealth.