Plaintiffs drop lawsuit over Facebook militia posts

January 30, 2021 GMT

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — A federal lawsuit seeking that Facebook block militias and hate groups from using the site after they used the platform to draw armed people to anti-police brutality protests in Wisconsin is over.

The attorney for the four plaintiffs, Jason Flores-Williams, filed a notice of dismissal in the case on Tuesday, the Kenosha News reported Friday. The notice gave no explanation for withdrawing the action, and Flores-Williams declined the newspaper’s request for comment.

The plaintiffs filed the lawsuit in September against Facebook, the Kenosha Guard militia, its leader, Kevin Mathewson, the far-right group Boogaloo Bois and Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 18-year-old from Illinois accused of killing two people and wounding a third during unrest in August in Kenosha. Rittenhouse has argued he acted in self-defense.

According to the lawsuit, the Kenosha Guard put out a call on its Facebook page for armed people to guard property in the city, which sits along Lake Michigan between Milwaukee and Chicago. Among those who took up the call was Rittenhouse, according to the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs argued their interactions with militia members during the protests left them traumatized. The group included Hannah Gittings, the girlfriend of Anthony Huber, one of the men Rittenhouse killed. The other plaintiffs said militia members harassed and assaulted them.

The demonstrations began after Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey, who is white, shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back during a domestic dispute, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Prosecutors earlier this month said they would not charge Sheskey, noting Blake had resisted arrest and was carrying a knife.