Dallas officer involved shootings sparks social media frenzy

People across the country and in Austin are using social media to share their thoughts on the shootings in Dallas.

While the President, Civil Rights leaders and members of Congress have all joined law enforcement condemning the sniper attack, others are taking to Twitter, Facebook and other social platforms praising the act. But many taking to the different outlets may not realize they could be breaking the law.

Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo addressed the issue in a press conference Friday. “Do not, do not, unless you want to meet law enforcement, be putting crazy stuff on the Internet,” he said.

"We gotta start killin em cops who killed are people an got away with it." “If a couple cops don't get whacked within the next coming months, I'll be depressed." Those are just some of the many negative posts on social media about the Dallas shooting. Many called the sniper, everything from a hero to a martyr.

“For those of you that are celebrating the death of five law enforcement peace officers that saved your lives, that gave their lives in Dallas, shame on you," Chief Acevedo said.

Chief Acevedo said to those putting threats toward law enforcement on social media to beware, there are limits to the 1st Amendment. “When you start making terroristic threats, don't be surprised when you have officers finding you and investigating your intent.”

JT Morris is an Austin attorney who specializes in 1st Amendment law. “It's definitely a gray area, the law, is really unsettled in this area right now.”  But he said there are a few exceptions, “It's basically speech that is directed towards an imminent violence, an imminent threat of harm to another individual,” he said.

But Morris said in the digital era, it is really hard to tell when a threat is really imminent, but it's possible.

If you make a statement on social media, all they have to show is sort of probable cause, or if it's violent enough of a threat or a statement, they can show reasonable suspicion, call you up or go to your home and talk to you,” he said.

That’s something Chief Acevedo said APD will do. “When we learn of a threat, we are going to investigate it and if it crosses into a threshold of criminal conduct, we are going to prosecute it.”

For more information on JT Morris you can click here.

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