A police warrant shows that Peoria (Ill.) Mayor Jim Ardis asked authorities to investigate the home of a man who created a parody Twitter account in the mayor’s name.
However, the Journal Star says that Twitter had already suspended the @Peoriamayor parody account before the raid took place and that the only thing police found on site was some marijuana.
The alleged creator of the Twitter account, Jacob Elliott, 36, was charged with one count of marijuana possession but was not charged with any crimes related to the parody account.
The official request for a search warrant filed with the Peoria police reads in part:
“In addition to the creation of the @peoriamayor twitter account, Mayor Ardis discovered that the individual had created ‘tweets’ impersonating Mayor Ardis. These ‘tweets’ implied Mayor Ardis utilizes illegal drugs, associates with prostitutes, and utilized offensive inappropriate language.”
In their investigation of Elliot’s home, police seized his laptop, iPhone, computer memory cards, two Xbox gaming systems and several pieces of marijuana paraphernalia, along with other electronic items.
According to reports, as many as seven police officers took part in the raid, questioning three individuals in connection with the Twitter account and arresting two at their workplaces.
"They just asked me about the Twitter account, if I knew anything about it," 27-year-old Michelle Pratt told the Journal Star.
Though no charges have been filed related to the fake Twitter account, 28-year-old Jon Daniels, who also took part in the parody, said in an interview with Vice that he still fears charges could be filed against him.
However, rather than silencing dissent, news of the raid has since resulted in a number of new parody accounts being created across Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
The story has even resulted in a Wikipedia page for Ardis, labeling the results of the raid as creating the “ Streisand effect,” in which a public figure’s attempt to conceal an event results in greater attention being placed upon said person, thing or event.
Peoria Police Chief Steve Settingsgaard defended the raid saying it was not clearly written as a parody account. He noted that the account listed the mayor’s actual email address and linked back to the city’s official website.
"I don't agree it was obvious, and in fact it appears that someone went to great lengths to make it appear it was actually from the mayor," Settingsgaard said.
Follow Eric Pfeiffer on Twitter (@ericpfeiffer)