Cleveland is trying again to stop use of social media to convene “flash mobs,” hoping this time to avoid charges that the city is violating constitutional rights.
City Council voted Monday to ban inciting to riot (the previous law prohibited only rioting) and added computers and cellphones to a list of items that can be considered criminal tools. Violators may be sentenced to up to six months in jail and fined $1,000.
An earlier attempt outlawed use of Internet sites like Facebook and Twitter to rally flash mobs. Critics said it was unconstitutional, unnecessary, and difficult to enforce.
Mayor Frank Jackson vetoed that legislation in August. Jackson said he will confer with the law department before deciding to sign the new legislation.
Experts worry the new ordinances are also flawed and predict they will be challenged by groups like the ACLU or criminal defense lawyers.