A veteran police officer in Sparks, Nevada is suing his department after he was fired over tweets he posted while off duty.
George Forbush, a bomb squad technician who has served 19 years with the Sparks Police Force, is suing Sparks after being suspended for tweets critical of Black Lives Matter.
"Officer Forbush did not relinquish his right to think, care, and speak about politics and current events when he accepted a job as a police officer," his lawsuit reads. Forbush is seeking $1 million and for the city to "implement a policy governing officers’ personal social media use that is consistent with the Constitution."
Forbush was suspended for four days by Sparks police after the city reviewed over 700 Tweets from his account. The review was sparked by an anonymous complaint about Forbush's behaviour online. An account that appears to be Forbush's reads, "4th Generation Native Nevadan. Hunter, Fisherman, GOP Supporter, NRA Member, Conservationist, Marvel Universe Nerd and Dog lover." According to the lawsuit, in Forbush's Tweets, he never identifies himself as a member of law enforcement.
One Tweet read, "I have 6 AR 15 rifles. I always thought having an AR 15 0r AK47 pistols was pointless because of lack of shouldering, but now I'm going to build a couple AR pistols just for BLM, Antifa or active shooters who cross my path and can’t maintain social distancing." Another Tweet seems to mock a Nevada police officer accused of planting evidence, "would be ironic if someone planted drugs by cramming them" into a body cavity "so they could be found during an intake search when he goes to prison for what he did."
"The city does not have a clear, consistent, and Constitutional policy regarding officers’ personal social media use," the lawsuit said. "The current climate of uncertainty, and arbitrary enforcement targeting political viewpoints, chills the exercise of the constitutional rights of speech and political participation of all city personnel."
Forbush was suspended under a city policy that states, "Employees and elected officials should not post discriminatory remarks, harassing statements, and threats of violence or any language that can be viewed as malicious, obscene, threatening or intimidating toward fellow employees, citizens, or vendors."
"Forbush’s case is a warning broadcast to all city employees that they had better not say anything, anywhere, in any forum, even in their personal social media discussions of matters of public concern," reads the lawsuit. City officials and police have not yet released any comment on the lawsuit but have hired independent counsel to defend the city in the case.