31 Mar 2021

ANC:

Is blocking a constituent on Twitter against the First Amendment? This DC resident thinks so

Photo by @dcsignsofresistance, via Twitter

Over the past year or so, ANC 6B10 commissioner Denise Krepp has tweeted updates on ANC business, as well as personal communications. She has also blocked constituents on the platform, as well as other DC residents and fellow ANC commissioners with whom she did not see eye to eye.

One of the residents she blocked, Mark Hecker, felt that it was inappropriate for an elected official to prevent her constituents from reaching her in an official capacity on social media. On Monday, his attorneys filed a complaint, which you can read here. Hecker announced the complaint via the following tweet, which links to a blog post by attorney Jason Harrow:

The complaint chronicles, in meticulous detail, not just the interactions between Hecker, a Kingman Park resident, and commissioner Krepp, but also explains the dynamics of Twitter and its role as a public forum.

Denise Krepp tells me that, as of Wednesday, she has not been served and has no comment. She added, “I’m going to continue to ask questions… and I’m going to continue being an ANC commissioner.” Hecker said, “My understanding is that it was filed Monday, but because of COVID some procedures seem to be happening very slowly.” I reached out to Charlie Gerstein with this same question. He said, “The court did not issue a summons—the formal document acknowledging that the case has been properly filed—until today. It usually takes two to three days for that to happen. We served the district this afternoon by email, and will serve Krepp tomorrow or the day after personally. “

As of Wednesday afternoon, it appears that many of the people Krepp had originally blocked have now been unblocked. I asked Hecker if this changed anything in regards to the lawsuit and this is what he had to say: “We plan to continue. I’m not interested in making money, but I do think it’s important that the courts determine whether this behavior is a violation of the first amendment. We believe it is, and we look forward to the judge’s decision, even if Commissioner Krepp seems to now realize she was in the wrong.”

Although only Hecker decided to engage a lawyer and sue Krepp for her alleged First Amendment violations, other people to whom I spoke for this post mentioned that they were also unhappy with Krepp’s behavior– something that was shared widely on Twitter itself.

This post has been updated.


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