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Berkeley considers changing practice of shaming protesters on social media

The Berkeley City Council is deciding whether to suspend its practice of posting names, mug shots and hometowns of those arrested during protests. Berkeley residents complained when the police made postings after a August 5 protest during which 400 antifa and anti-fascists showed up to conduct a mostly peaceful demonstration. The city is now considering posting information only when individuals pose an imminent threat. Mayor Jesse Arreguin wants to balance First Amendment protections against the press and public’s right to know under the California Public Records Act. “We should not be impeding the First Amendment,” he said. “When the media wants information, they should have access, but we don’t want our Police Department tweeting out information and mug shots and creating a chilling effect for participants in protests.” (San Francisco Chronicle, September 25, 2018, by Ashley McBride and Michael Cabanatuan)

Berkeley police started the practice of exposing those arrested on social media in response to criticism last year that they had not done enough to stop violent rallies. But critics say that putting personal information on social media created an unfair assault on privacy and subjected individuals to possible threats, identity theft and violence. Most who had their information posted were never charged with a crime. (East Bay Express, September 13, 2018, by Darwin BondGraham)

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