Try, try, again: Cleveland City Council members to introduce new flash mob ordinances

Cleveland City Councilmen Zack Reed (Ward 2), Jeff Johnson (Ward 8), Kevin Conwell (Ward 9) and Michael D. Polensek (Ward 11) introduced three ordinances at Monday night's Cleveland City Council meeting focusing on criminal flash mobs and rioting incited by social media.

The three introduced ordinances include:

  • Inciting to riot. No person shall knowingly engage in conduct designed to incite another to commit a riot. This supplement ordinance targets the individual(s) who organize a riot and would be a misdemeanor of the first degree
  • Riot. No person shall participate with four or more others in a course of disorderly conduct in violation of Section 605.03, including but not limited to a community event, place of business, or any City of Cleveland property, facility, or recreation area. This amending ordinance focuses on the individuals participating in a riot and would be a misdemeanor of the first degree.
  • Criminal tool. This ordinance includes "electronic media device" as part of the listing of criminal tools under section 625.08 of the Codified Ordinances of Cleveland. This amending ordinance would be a misdemeanor of the first degree.

"We are working to stop criminal flash mobs by focusing on the people who organize these disruptive 'new tech' mobs," said Councilman Zack Reed. "When the purpose of an individual's speech advocates criminal actions, it can be subject to limitations by our laws. These ordinances help to clarify and update our existing laws."

"Cleveland City Council passed a law this summer prohibiting the improper use of social media to organize criminal flash mobs which was vetoed by Mayor Jackson and opposed by the local ACLU," said Councilman Jeff Johnson. "The approach we are now taking does not find fault in the use of social media to express an opinion, but rather considers the organizer's words as proof of criminal intent. We are focusing on individuals who use modern technology to cause criminal rioting."

Passage of these three ordinances would amend or supplement existing laws under the Codified Ordinances of Cleveland and will be introduced at Cleveland City Council's Monday, October 03, 2011 meeting. The three proposed ordinances will be heard by the Public Safety, Legislative and Finance Committees.


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