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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, August 30, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News August 30, 2021

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News August 30, 2021

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.) Prince William County residents concerned about police, free speech after hot mic video released

Prince William County residents are concerned that police are being used to intimidate and chill free speech.

It all started when Prince William County Supervisor Andrea Bailey was caught on a hot mic discussing a resident who had just presented to the County Board of Supervisors. Another Prince William County resident responded by sending an e-mail to the entire board expressing his frustration and anger with the board's activities and the moment caught on tape. That got him a visit from Prince William County First Sergeant Bradford Cavender.

Cavender can be heard telling the man that he did nothing wrong and did not break any laws. Now, residents say that police response chills their free speech, including Elena Schlossberg. "Actually, I will say it is chilling for me too. I reread everything I send now. If I say your decision is gonna blow up in your face, oh my god does someone think I'm actually intending that I'm going to send a bomb? So it does have an effect," said Schlossberg.

2.) Freedom Phone: The first batch shipped, but here's why you should avoid it

A new smartphone called the Freedom Phone promises to prioritize "free speech and privacy" above anything else. You might assume that the Freedom Phone follows the trend of phone-makers like Apple making it harder for your data to be shared unwillingly, and for companies to track you. Since the announcement, numerous publications and privacy experts have raised questions and security concerns about the phone and whether self-proclaimed "Bitcoin millionaire" Erik Finman, who is funding the phone, is being entirely forthright with potential buyers.

The Freedom Phone and its politically conservative branding will appeal to many. But there is nothing to suggest that the phone, its privacy claims or avoidance of Big Tech work the way Finman suggests.

On Aug. 9, Finman posted to Twitter a picture of a stack of FedEx boxes with the caption, "It's shipping time." The tweet was posted using Twitter for iPhone.

3.) ICE Deported Him After His Movie Came Out. Now He’s Testing The Limits Of Free Speech

Activist Claudio Rojas says he was deported to his homeland, Argentina, for appearing in a film that criticized U.S. immigration authorities.

Rojas is one of the stars of The Infiltrators. He was invited to introduce the movie at the Miami Film Festival in 2019. Instead, Rojas was detained at a routine check-in with Immigration and Customs and Enforcement. A few weeks later, he was deported.

“They didn’t like that the film had come out,” Rojas told NPR in Spanish through an interpreter. “If I would have shown up at the Miami Film Festival, I was going to talk a lot. And they wanted to avoid that. So they silenced me.”

Immigrant rights advocates have argued for years that ICE is deliberately retaliating against them, despite the agency’s denials. Lawyers for Rojas say his case is especially egregious and raises big questions about immigrants’ freedom of speech.

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