A DISCUSSION OF LAW AND JOURNALISM

Tag: Spike Lee

Spike Lee’s Twitter Vigilantism

By LASIS Staff

Back in April 2012, then LASIS  reporter (and now Credit Suisse attorney) Jessica McElroy examined the death threats made against an elderly Florida couple (who as it happened, had nothing to do with the shooting of Trayvon Martin), after filmmaker Spike Lee tweeted their address to all his followers, under the mistaken belief that it was George Zimmerman’s address.

As Ms. McElroy put it: “Mr. Lee is lucky that nothing happened to the McClains or their property. As it is, the McClains could have sued Mr. Lee for his negligent actions, and if they prevailed, the court would have reached into his deep pockets for compensatory damages (money that the defendant pays to cover the out-of-pocket costs of the plaintiff’s injury) and possibly punitive damages (to punish Mr. Lee).”

Mr. Lee’s luck may have run out.

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The Injustice of Vigilante Justice

By Jessica McElroy

The shooting of Trayvon Martin has caused a national media frenzy, with pundits, celebrities, and even President Obama weighing in on the event that has sparked protests and outrage across the country. With emotions running high, it wasn’t long before understandably outraged people threatened violence.

The New Black Panther Party offered a $10,000 bounty for the “citizen’s arrest” of Mr. Zimmerman., though the reward was offered to anyone who could capture him “dead or alive.”  The Department of Justice has yet to take any action against the group.

Then, on March 23,  Elaine and David McClain of Sanford, Florida, an elderly couple who had nothing to do with the tragedy, learned firsthand about the anger directed towards shooter George Zimmerman when filmmaker Spike Lee took to Twitter to tweet to his followers what he thought was Mr. Zimmerman’s address, but was in fact the McClains’ home address.

The negligent actions of Mr. Lee and the cash reward offered by the New Black Panther Party could have resulted in violence for the McCain and Zimmerman families.  LASIS examines the civil and criminal liability that could (and should) result.   (more…)

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