You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Cleveland City Council Seeks to Ban Flash Mobs

BY Nick Judd | Friday, July 29 2011

Last week, the city of Cleveland, Ohio made it illegal moved to make it illegal to organize "flash mobs" within city limits:

Cleveland Councilman Zack Reed wants a good crowd when George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic perform July 30 in Luke Easter Park. What he doesn't want is a flash mob.

At Reed's urging, City Council voted Wednesday to outlaw use of Facebook and other social media to call together unruly crowds.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Thomas Ott reports that violations of the law will be a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine on the first offense, $250 on the second and $500 on the third.

There's a Footloose joke in here somewhere ...

Update: The local chapter of the ACLU notes the bill is still awaiting the mayor's signature, and, predictably, issued a statement in opposition:

Use of Facebook and other social media to summon unruly "flash mobs" would be a misdemeanor punishable by a $100 fine on the first offense. The charge would be in addition to disorderly conduct or other alleged offenses that could carry jail time.

ACLU of Ohio Legal Director James Hardiman said in the news release that the law is vague and violates the rights to freedom of speech because it does not define social media or explain what would make a post criminal. The law could end up punishing people who innocently promote events that are re-posted on social-media sites and turn rowdy.

"The law is unconstitutional, unworkable and a waste of resources," Hardiman said in the news release. "The city already has laws in place prohibiting acts of violence or disorderly conduct, and they should be enforced when appropriate."