Former Missouri mayor sues own city over free speech, citing deleted Facebook posts

By By Rick Montgomery, The Kansas City Star

An alderman in the Jackson County community of Greenwood is suing the city and mayor for allegedly violating his free-speech rights, in part by deleting his comments on the city’s public Facebook page.

Marvin Megee, himself a former Greenwood mayor, also alleges in a federal lawsuit that Mayor Levi Weaver last April removed a homemade sign Megee had lawfully planted near a voting place during municipal elections. The sign was an enlargement of an email Weaver sent to Megee excoriating the alderman for “your incessant need to interfere” with city operations.

Weaver and Megee for years have been locked in bitter, often personal battles over projects and proposals affecting Greenwood, pop. 5,600.

“This is his feud,” Weaver told The Star. “This isn’t about me.”

Weaver said he had no knowledge of city staff deleting Megee’s critical comments of government actions from Greenwood’s Facebook page or, as Megee’s suit alleges, sometimes banning the alderman from posting at all.

Weaver acknowledged removing the sign but said Megee “couldn’t get a prosecutor or judge to convict me on it.”

Megee is seeking unspecified actual and punitive damages, plus coverage of his legal fees.

“I’m asking a jury to uphold what I believe is the law of the land. Citizens have a right to voice their opinions (and) participate in a government-sponsored social media platform,” he said Thursday in a phone interview. “Social media is not going away.”

Weaver took over mayoral duties after Megee stepped down from the position in 2016, having served three terms.

Weaver said he suspected that the alderman is angling for an out-of-court settlement along the lines of what the city had agreed upon while he presided as mayor, with Greenwood’s insurer paying out an averaging of more than $200,000 per case.

Megee denied the charge: “I’m not out for the money.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.