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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, April 08, 2019

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: APRIL 8, 2019

Bliss Davis, Content Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH IN THE NEWS: APRIL 8, 2019

As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) UK eyes regulating social media companies, fines for execs

The United Kingdom is proposing a new plan to aggressively ramp up oversight on tech companies, including fines of senior executives and the possibility of blocking internet platforms that aren't policing their sites enough for harmful content.

The proposed regulations, outlined in a white paper released Monday, would establish a statutory “duty of care” for social media companies like Facebook and Twitter and a new independent regulator to oversee the platforms.

“Up until now, we have allowed these firms to regulate themselves, but it is simply no longer working," Prime Minister Theresa May wrote on Monday in a post on Facebook. “Online companies are increasingly operating without consideration for some of their most vulnerable users.”

2.) Man filming Patriot Prayer rally acquitted of disobeying federal officer’s order

A federal magistrate judge Friday acquitted a man who was accused of failing to comply with a federal officer’s order to leave the corner where a Patriot Prayer rally was occurring in Terry Schrunk Plaza in late June 2018.

U.S. Magistrate Stacie F. Beckerman’s ruling came at the end of John Hacker’s approximately three-hour trial on the misdemeanor charge.

Hacker’s lawyer successfully argued that the permit to protest in Terry Schrunk Plaza obtained by Joey Gibson, a leader of the right-wing Patriot Prayer group, provided that the June 30, 2018 rally could not block the entrances to the park and could not exclude members of the general public from the park.

3.) Director of Human Rights Commission suspended after social media, free speech controversy

The Executive Director of the Alaska Human Rights Commission will be suspended 15 working days without pay, the commission announced Friday afternoon, after a lengthy executive session that took part of two days to complete.

After finishing its executive session meeting Friday, the commission announced that in addition to the suspension, Marti Buscaglia will write a letter of apology. The commission voted 5-2 on the action. One of the commissioners said he voted against the action because he thought it was not strong enough.

Buscaglia came under fire after leaving her business card with a note about an “offensive sticker” on a truck parked in a lot outside the state building. The sticker shows a tactical rifle and the phrase “Black Rifles Matter.” Buscaglia and another state employee left their business cards, and soon after the Alaska Human Rights Commission posted a photo of the sticker on its Facebook page, asking “In what world is this OK?”

The truck belongs to Brent Linegar, a contractor who was working on the building at the time, and he soon took to social media himself, defending his business. He says he was going to let the note slide, until he saw the photo of his truck on Facebook, and heard that the owner of the building had been contacted, and had been asked not to work with him because of the sticker.

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