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ACLU Sues Adams County for Violating Red Oak Man’s Free Speech

RED OAK, Iowa -- The ACLU is suing Adams County for free speech violations, after a Red Oak man posted angry criticism of the sheriff's office on Facebook.

Jon Goldsmith was charged with a simple misdemeanor harassment, after he criticized the actions of a deputy at a festival in Corning.

At the festival, Goldsmith said he saw Adams County Sheriff's Deputy Cory Dorsey body slam someone and pull over a motorist for a brake light and conduct a drug dog search of the man's car. No drugs were found, and Goldsmith felt the man was mistreated.

Goldsmith shared the mugshot of the man he said was body slammed and criticized the deputy on Facebook. The post contained a lot of curse words, but the ACLU says no threats were made.

“It's not a fine line between protected free speech and harassment. There is strong protection under the First Amendment to criticize police or other government officials and to do that even in ways that are annoying, offensive, vulgar, use curse words; all of that is protected by the First Amendment,” said Rita Bettis Austen, legal director for the ACLU of Iowa.

The lawsuit is filed specifically against Adams County, Dorsey and his superior, Adams County Sgt. Paul Hogan.

The ACLU wants the Adams County Sheriff's Office to undergo training about free speech rights.

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