2 men sue mayor, alleging Facebook ban unconstitutional

August 5, 2021 GMT

WOONSOCKET, R.I. (AP) — Two men have sued a Rhode Island mayor they allege violated their First Amendment rights by deleting critical posts they made on her Facebook page and then blocking them entirely, the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island said Thursday.

Greg Duhamel said he was banned last November when he made a post challenging Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt’s attempt to claim credit for the building of a skate park.

Thomas Dubois made a comment about construction taking place at a local park. His remark was quickly deleted and he was banned, the ACLU said.

“Just as public officials may not preclude persons from participating in the public comment portion of a town hall meeting based on their viewpoints, Mayor Baldelli-Hunt cannot ban users from the @LISABALDELLIHUNT Facebook page because she dislikes their opinions,” the federal lawsuit says.

They are asking the court to declare the blocks unconstitutional and to order the mayor to unblock them and all others who are banned from her Facebook account.

City attorney John DeSimone said the mayor maintains that her Facebook page is a personal page and not an official city account, and that the lawsuit is moot because Baldelli-Hunt has already unblocked Duhamel and Dubois.