By PoliceOne Staff
HONOLULU — A pro-gun charity has filed a federal lawsuit over posts that Honolulu police removed from their Facebook page.
The president and assistant director of the Hawaii Defense Foundation allege the department violated the First Amendment by removing their comments and banning them from the page, NECN reported.
Christopher Baker and Derek Scammon, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, say that in light of the move, other members and supporters of the charity who visit the Facebook page "face an ongoing threat that their posts or commentary will be arbitrarily deleted."
First Amendment scholar David Hudson said the lawsuit, filed Tuesday, is the first of its kind.
"It's really a cutting edge First Amendment issue," Hudson said. "The key legal question would be whether the police department created a public forum ... for private speech or whether the web page is government speech."
The government has the right to control what speech it supports, he added.
The lawsuit does not seek monetary compensation, only that the department reinstate the posts and change its Facebook policies to include guidelines for the administrators of the page.
Attorney David Holcomb said the Hawaii Defense Foundation initially formed to defend the right to bear arms, but now assists citizens with civil rights issues more generally.