A 27-year-old Louisiana man faces a “terrorizing” charge over a Facebook post in which he satirically claimed local authorities had issued an order for deputies to “shoot on sight” if they “come into contact with” the so-called coronavirus “infected.”
Rapides Parish resident Waylon Allen Bailey ended the post with a tweet referencing Hollywood actor Brad Pitt, who starred in the 2013 zombie horror film “World War Z,” which recounts the tale of an investigator tasked with stopping a zombie pandemic.
The post was meant to be a joke — albeit a poorly timed one.
See a snapshot of the full post below:
“On Friday, [the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office] was notified of a social media post that promoted false information related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” local station KALB reported.
“Waylon Allen Bailey, 27, was identified as the suspect. He was shortly after located near his residence and taken into custody without incident. Bailey was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center for one count of terrorism. Bond has been set at $10,000.”
His arrest prompted questions over whether the coronavirus-inspired authoritarianism being seen across the country is leading to potentially unconstitutional punishments being doled out by the authorities.
A Facebook post by the RPSO announcing Bailey’s arrest provoked an outcry from those who felt that the gross charge was a violation of his First Amendment rights, as well as a stark indicator that America is descending into a veritable police state.
Since the comments cannot be embedded, here’s a rundown of some of them:
- “Way to violate the first amendment!”
- “So I take it your department/parish has a lot of money floating around to pay for civil rights violation lawsuits? Because that’s what’s going to happen. And don’t try the ‘you can’t tell fire in a crowded theater’ line. That ruling was overturned. (The more you know!)”
- “Sounds like taking away free speech to me and using this thread to scare people to not expose alot of what they are hiding concerning the coronavirus to me…….”
- “News stations post up false information all the time so can we arrest them?? Asking for a friend. 😬”
- “Have you heard of the 1st amendment just wondering?”
- “Rapids parish police department. Do we live in a Policed state or a FREE STATE?. I sincerely this guy files a civil lawsuit against everyone that was involved!! If was not hate speech that he spoke. It was obviously a very bad pun at referencing a movie!! Hope yall loose your dam jobs for violating this mans god given rights”
Of course, there were also comments in defense of the police, with some arguing that Bailey’s crime was equivalent to screaming “fire” in a crowded theater.
See the post and its comments below for yourself:
Earlier today the Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office was notified of a social media post that promoted false information…
Posted by Rapides Parish Sheriff’s Office on Friday, March 20, 2020
“Bailey was located near his residence and taken into custody without incident,” the post reads. “Bailey was booked into the Rapides Parish Detention Center in reference to One Count – Terrorizing. Bailey is currently being detained at the detention center as bond has yet to be set, in reference to the charge.”
“Sheriff [William Earl] Hilton would like to again impress upon everyone that we are all in this together. As well as remind everyone that communicating false information to alarm or cause other serious disruptions to the general public will not be tolerated.”
According to Justia, “terrorizing” in Louisiana constitutes “the intentional communication of information that the commission of a crime of violence is imminent or in progress or that a circumstance dangerous to human life exists or is about to exist, with the intent of causing members of the general public to be in sustained fear for their safety; or causing evacuation of a building, a public structure, or a facility of transportation; or causing other serious disruption to the general public.”
The punishment for “terrorizing” may not exceed a fine of $15,000 and/or fifteen years in prison.
What some found particularly disturbing about Bailey’s arrest was the dichotomy between how he’s been treated and how criminals in other states have fared.
“I say let him go on the agreement he does not ever do it again,” one critic wrote. “Aren’t they releasing people left and right during this Corona out break? Yeah it was a bad joke, but no one died from it either. Everyone deserves a second chance.”
The critic referenced reports that some Democrat-led localities such as Philadelphia are now delaying arrests for suspects accused of arguably far more tangibly harmful crimes, including theft, grand theft auto, vandalism, fraud, etc.
…..Are there ‘any’ Democrats that think with a “Sane & Logical” mind?????? Free-for-all on drugs, burglary, vandalism: Dem-led Philly halts arrests for crimes during virus crisis https://t.co/rYmVwixe6J via @BIZPACReview
— mmDONALD07 (@MDonald07) March 19, 2020
Yet posting a silly, dumb Facebook post warrants arrest? Granted, Rapides Parish is an entirely separate city in an entirely separate state, but still …
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