Posted on | August 9, 2010 | 1 Comment
ITHACA, NY–The administrators of a Facebook page set up to support Ithaca Police Officer Bryan Bangs are accusing Mayor Carolyn Peterson and other city officials of attempting to suppress the group’s free speech rights. Police officials are denying the accusation.
Bangs was cleared by a Tompkins County Grand Jury in July of wrongdoing in the shooting death of Shawn Greenwood. The Grand Jury found that Bangs acted in self-defense while trying to arrest Greenwood, a convicted felon, under a warrant. Later that month, Bangs’ house was torched in an apparent arson. No one has yet been charged in that fire.
On Friday (August 6), the Facebook site’s administrators posted that “the Mayor of Ithaca as well as certain police officials are currently attempting to silence and censor our support of a member of their law enforcement agency.”
No further details are given. The site also accuses the Mayor, a Democrat, of prejudging the case early on:
In the last several months, Mayor Peterson attended the funeral of a repeatedly convicted felon who was shot and killed by a police officer after striking another officer with his vehicle while resisting arrest when the police attempted to serve him a search warrant during a suspected drug deal. Mayor Peterson then attended a public forum and clapped while individuals called the officer who fired the shots a racist and a murderer.
The accusations have touched off a storm of controversy about the website with many posters to the page calling for the Mayor to resign. The story has spread beyond the city, as two upstate television stations have reported on the allegations.
Mayor Peterson is not quoted in either television report.
However, Deputy Police Chief John Barber reportedly told both stations that the city was not trying to shut down the site.
Instead, according to Barber, Ithaca officials simply wanted the site revamped to clarify it was not sponsored by the city.
As of Monday (August 10), the site specifies that it “is NOT a Government page, and is not run by or authorized by any government agency.”