Award Winning Journalist Julie Neisen is Sued for Libel
Award-winning Journalist Julie Neisen will be heading to court on 09/01/2020. She and three codefendants are being sued anonymously for libel. She spoke out on social media about a complaint against a police officer allegedly flashing the "Okay" sign at protesters who were there to push for the police's defunding. The hand sign is extremely controversial because it has recently become associated with the White Supremacist Movement. Two women, represented by Jennifer Kinsley, filed a complaint against the officer alleging he used the racist hand gesture. Neisen and several others then spoke out about this alleged behavior on social media prompting the officer to file a lawsuit anonymously. Kinsley stated about the case, "the First Amendment protects people who accuse public officials of racism. "It always has been and always will be, [protected] It's the same as calling someone ignorant or biased or a Nazi." She also said, "This lawsuit is being filed not only to stop these people from speaking up but also to make people afraid to say something when they see something that is wrong," The Plaintiffs allege that Neisen spoke about this on social media with malicious intent because she does not like the police. They allege that by commenting on social media about a complaint that he used a racist hand sign that they willfully and intentionally placed the officer in harm's way. The judge placed Neisen under a temporary restraining order, which forbade her from discussing the case publicly and sealed the case. Several agencies have come to Neisen and her codefendants' defense. In an NWU press release, the NWU states, "We have signed on to an amicus brief to have the case unsealed along with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Writers Guild of America East, the Society of Professional Journalists and eight University professors who specialize in First Amendment Law. We are also raising money for Julie's legal defense at our Legal Defense Fund." They go on to say, "NWU [National Writers' Union] sees this as part of the pushback by police unions against the recent anti-racist uprising and a further attack on the First Amendment and a free press." The officer in question, Micheal Olthaus, had been on the force for 12 years and was involved in the 2012 shooting of Dontez O'Neal. He is suing under the pseudonym Michael Ryan or MR. Julie Neisen, one of the defendants in the lawsuit, has been an editor, food blogger, journalist, writer, and more recently activist for more than 18 years. She is currently a member of the National Writers' Union. Neisen discussed the incident on social media forums after she had done her due diligence. She looked into the officer's record and found multiple excessive force complaints. When she was asked why she felt so strongly about speaking up, she said, "I wrote it because I believe that there is a problem with police and these problems need to be exposed," She feels that this lawsuit is a threat to her first amendment rights and that it is an attempt to bully her into silence.
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