According to the Los Angeles Times, at 5:23 pm on Friday, the Compton rapper, The Game, posted a questionable message on Twitter. It told his 580,000 followers to call the posted number if they wanted an internship. The tweet gave no indication that the phone number was the official help line for the Compton sheriff’s station.
“It was almost like a symphony of misery. You’ve got a multitude of phones ringing simultaneously,” said headquarters bureau Capt. Mike Parker. Many of the initial callers hung up when they heard the standard station greeting. Deputies figured the station lines were faulty and even called the phone company for help, but some callers were insistent even after hearing law enforcement: “Hey I’d like to get the music internship.”
After a lengthy delay, the number came down sometime before midnight, but the rapper seemed less than apologetic. The musician, who has expressed anti-police sentiments in his lyrics, mocked the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department on Twitter: “Yall can track a tweet down but cant solve murders ! Dat was an accident but maybe now yall can actually do yall job.”
During the roughly three-hour overflow, deputies took legitimate calls about a missing person, a spousal abuse incident, two robberies, and a stolen vehicle. Among the potential charges, Parker said, are delaying or obstructing a peace officer in the performance of their duties and disrupting or impeding communication over a public safety radio frequency.
“I understand and feel the sheriff’s pain, but they have a pesky problem called the 1st Amendment,” said defense attorney Mark Geragos. “I can’t imagine the D.A. would file anything. It’s not like The Game was yelling ‘fire’ in a crowded theater…the Compton sheriff’s station is not 911.”
Law enforcement agencies across the nation are struggling with the effects of social media. Last month, a disc jockey sent a Twitter message telling his followers to come to a concert in Hollywood celebrating the release of a movie. His tweet brought hundreds to Hollywood Boulevard, creating a near-riot that led to arrests. “We’re still waiting for a Twitter message with an apology or a retraction or ‘this was bad idea,’ ” Parker said in concern to The Game. “We’re waiting for something that sends a message out that people’s lives are more important than playing around.”
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