Charges dropped against High School Student Faced with Terrorism Charges after Posting Rap Lyrics on Facebook
Cameron D'Ambrosio was at one point held in Boston without bail and charged as a terrorist under 18 U.S.C. Section 871 after posting rap lyrics he wrote on his Facebook page. The teen's song contained what seemed like a reference to the Boston Marathon bombing and calls the White House a “federal house of horror.” Due to this act of free speech which posed no specific threat to anyone, the 18 year-old was facing 20 years in prison.
Since the Boston Marathon bombing, the government has been addressing suspicious acts in hopes of preventing future terror attacks. However, this should not permit the government to wholly strip away our citizens' rights under the First Amendment.
No one should go to jail for rapping about politics online. The 1969 Supreme Court case, Brandenburg v. Ohio, set a precedent for allowing law enforcement to limit freedom of speech under limited circumstances when speech presents a clear and present danger that it will incite the law to be broken. The speech must provoke a violation of the law, and any danger that could arise from such speech must be both “imminent and likely.” 395 U.S. 444. It was obviously determined that no one should ever be prosecuted for exercising their valid First Amendment rights.
Recently in Oakland and the Bay Area, many Occupy Oakland and Occupy San Francisco protesters have been arrested for protesting certain ideas and values. No threats of lawlessness were present in those situations, yet the police arrested protesters on numerous occasions for no apparent reason other than to chill their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and to protest.
The rising importance of police conflict and government crackdowns on citizens trying to exercise their First Amendment rights is becoming a much more common problem these days and this issue needs to be carefully monitored by those who truly value the U.S. Constitution and our rights under the First Amendment.
For further information on these issues see the following reports:
Huffington Post | Cameron Dambrosio bomb threat Boston Terrorism
Oakland Tribune | Oakland police arrest six Occupy protesters in Saturday night march
First amendment rights:
US Terrorism Codes: