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KIRO TV: Cartoonist Targeted With Criminal Probe For Mocking Police


Larry

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RENTON, Wash. -- The Renton City Prosecutor wants to send a cartoonist to jail for mocking the police department in a series of animated Internet videos.

The "South-Park"-style animations parody everything from officers having sex on duty to certain personnel getting promoted without necessary qualifications. While the city wants to criminalize the cartoons, First Amendment rights advocates say the move is an "extreme abuse of power."

Only KIRO Team 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne holds a key document that really lays bare the city’s intent. The document was quietly filed in King County Superior Court last week. It’s a search warrant accusing an anonymous cartoon creator, going by the name of Mr. Fiddlesticks, of cyberstalking (RCW 9.61.260). The Renton Police Department and the local prosecutor got a judge to sign off as a way to uncover the name of whoever is behind the parodies. Halsne talked with three nationally respected legal experts who believe the use of the cyberstalking statute is likely stomping on the constitution.

Cartoon Character of Officer: "Is there any reason why an anonymous video, with no identifying information that ties it to the department or city is being taken more seriously than officers having sex on duty, arguing with outside agencies while in a drunken stupor off duty, sleeping while on duty, throwing someone off a bridge, and having inappropriate relationships with coworkers and committing adultery?"

Cartoon Character of Bureaucrat: "The reason is that internal dirt is internal. The department will crucify certain people and take care of others."

A criminal court document, uncovered by Team 7 Investigators, not only shows how badly the city of Renton wants to "out" the cartoonist (who goes by the name MrFiddlesticks), but states some of the fake character's lines discuss real life incidents.

For example, the search warrant says one cartoon statement "discussed a past incident that has already been investigated…..regarding a dating relationship (a female detective) had with a suspect." An embarrassing revelation; yes, but criminal?

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