LAPD sergeant files lawsuit after repeatedly being disciplined for personal social media posts

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LOS ANGELES, CA – A sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has filed a lawsuit against the LAPD and its top commander for violating his Constitutional rights, after being repeatedly disciplined over posts on his personal social media accounts.

Sgt. Joel Sydanmaa, a 24-year-LAPD veteran said that his right to free speech has been violated. He said that he was disciplined by the department for his off-duty social media posts concerning gang violence in songs by the late rapper Nipsey Hussle and other issues. 

According to the suit that was filed on November 16th, Sgt. Sydanmaa said that he was wrongly disciplined for expressing his opinions as a private citizen while off-duty on his personal social media accounts about public issues.

The Los Angeles Times reported that the suit said that he has “never done anything improper on the job,” yet was reprimanded twice and briefly suspended for his social media posts.

Sgt. Sydanmaa alleged that the punishments, which followed posts he made about Muslims, the appointment of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court amid sexual assault allegations, and the shooting death of rapper Nipsey Hussle, were doled out solely because his opinions “run counter” to the LAPD’s “preferred political stance.”

In each of those instances, Sydanmaa made it clear online that he was speaking for himself, not the department and that he was posting on his own time from his Orange County home.

According to the 45-page lawsuit:

“Sgt. Sydanmaa’s statements on the account were always and entirely his personal views, opinions, and comments, in his capacity as a private citizen, on matters of public concern.”

The suit added:

“The Instagram account’s home page contains a prominent disclaimer stating expressively that the statements and opinions expressed are solely his personal opinions and not those of any government agency.”

In 2015, following the November 13th terrorist attack on Paris carried out by the Islmaic State group, Sydanmaa saw a post on Facebook that was being widely shared at the time about how Japan, “keeps Islam at bay by putting restrictions on Islam and all Muslims.”

According to the lawsuit, Sydnamaa reposted it on his own account, thinking it was worthy of further discussion.

The suit says:

“He is not an expert on Japanese law or culture, but he knew that unlike many other countries, Japan has not been the target of radical Islamic terrorist attacks. He hoped to engage in discussions about an issue of obvious grave public importance and re-posted the Japan post on his Instagram page.”

Reportedly, after his postings, two employees of the Council on American-Islamic Relations wrote to then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, demanding that Beck “identify and discipline” the officer behind the Instagram account.

The department initially proposed a penalty of a 22-day suspension without pay. 

In a 2018 post, Sydanmaa summarized the public allegations made by three accusers that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted one or more young women when in high school or college.

Sydanmaa concluded by writing:

“Considering these circumstances, there’s no way that Kavanaugh can be proven guilty. Sooooo?”

After that post, an anonymous person filed a complaint with the department, alleging that Sydanmaa was “actively engaging in the shaming of multiple women who came forward with allegations.” After a hearing, the department imposed an official reprimand.

In his April 2019 post about Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot a month earlier in South LA, Sydanmaa wrote:

“The bottom line is that he chose the lifestyle that ultimately killed him and it wasn’t the ‘great guy’ lifestyle that so many people are making it out to be now that he’s gone.”

According to the lawsuit, his post drew more than 1,300 comments, many of them insulting him.

One commenter wrote:

“No wonder so many gangbangers want to kill y’all, y’all just shouldn’t show up, for everyone’s sake.”

Sydanmaa was handed a one-day suspension.

The suit contends:

“A public employee simply cannot be subjected to discipline or retaliation consistent with our Constitution, for the statement Sgt. Sydanmaa made about Nipsey Hussle. The LAPD cannot take the position that expression of opinions praising Mr. Hussle is allowed, but expressions of opinions criticizing Mr. Hussle is prohibited and subject to discipline.

“Yet, that is exactly what the LAPD has done.”

The lawsuit states that Sgt. Sydanmaa has received more than 120 commendations, been awarded the Police Medal for Heroism, and is “devoted to the job, the people he protects, and the younger officers he mentors.”

The lawsuit also states that he fought through a cancer diagnosis and instead of retiring, he came back to the job. 
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LAPD officers ripping mad after chief, mayor promote police-bashing Lakers: ‘Rank and file are pissed’

October 1st, 2020

LOS ANGELES, CA- Leaders within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) sent an internal email to show support for the Lakers, a Los Angeles basketball team in the NBA finals.

Now, officers within the LAPD are coming forward to express their disdain toward the team and their anti-law enforcement sentiment.

Many industries have been affected by the continued rioting and social unrest across the US, and the professional sports industry is no exception. Sports leagues and players are more politicized than ever. 

This is especially true for the Lakers, who have condemned law enforcement multiple times. Two of the team’s star players have used social media to show their anger.

LeBron James posted about Jacob Blake, an armed criminal who was shot by police claiming he “feels so sorry” for Blake:

“And y’all wonder why we say what we say about the Police!! Someone please tell me WTF is this???!!! Exactly another black man being targeted. This shit is so wrong and so sad!! Feel so sorry for him, his family and OUR PEOPLE!! We want JUSTICE”

One of James’ teammates, Kyle Kuzma, also took to Twitter to claim that law enforcement officers are able to get away with breaking the law. Kuzma then argued that police reform is needed.

https://twitter.com/kylekuzma/status/1300498168539422724?s=20

The statements made by individual players may not reflect the opinion of the team, but the Lakers have made aversion to police clear.

A post on the team’s official Twitter page shows multiple players wearing hats with the words “Make America Arrest the Cops Who Killed Breonna Taylor.”

The hat is a replica of the red “Make America Great Again” with the words “Great Again” crossed out.

The caption of the tweet reads:

“Justice for Breonna Taylor”

Despite the clear anti-police sentiment perpetuated by the team and its players LAPD officials still decided to support them in an internal email.

The email which was obtained by Breitbart News reads:

“The Chief of Police has authorized the wearing of Lakers hats by all Department personnel (sworn and civilian), while on-duty, from now until the conclusion of the finals. The Los Angeles Police Department would like to wish the Lakers much success.”

Many LAPD officers have expressed anger at their superiors for the betrayal. One officer anonymously told Breitbart:

“LAPD Rank and File are pissed. We’ve been betrayed and abandoned by the people who are supposed to speak up for us and the law abiding citizens we protect and serve.”

The officer went on to condemn the Los Angeles leaders who refused to push hard against last weekend’s attempted shooting of three officers:

“The Chief and Mayor refuse to go hard in the paint about the attempted murder of three police officers over the last week. Yet find time to push insulting garbage like this? We are supposed to ignore the repeated hatred from LeBron James and the rest of the major American Pro-Sports leagues?”

Who will stand up for officers if their own superiors won’t?

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LOS ANGELES, CA – Earlier in September, we at Law Enforcement Today reported on a challenge of sorts issued by Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to LeBron James.

Essentially, Sheriff Villanueva posed the challenge for James to contribute toward the reward money for those who can identify the shooter who ambushed two LASD deputies on September 12th.

However, when James was recently asked about the sheriff’s challenge, he stated that he had “zero comment,” on the matter.

Now, considering that James has an estimated net worth of $480 million and earns somewhere around $100 million annually, donating toward a noble fund to reward those who can identify a person who attempted to execute two officers shouldn’t be that big of a monetary setback.

I mean, we’re talking about the same person who donated $100,000 back in July of this year to help pay off fines accrued by ex-convicts in an effort to help them regain their right to vote in Florida.

That donation to Florida Rights Restoration Coalition happens to be the same organizational vehicle that has Mike Bloomberg in some hot water as well.

When Sheriff Villanueva posed a challenge for James to “match that and double that reward” regarding the injured deputies, the reward from the county was $100,000.

 

So, it’s not like a $100K donation is outside of James’ realm since he’s done it before – and also, he makes on average over $270,000 a day based upon the estimated $100M annual income from all sources.

But, when asked by members of the press on September 22nd about whether he’d entertain the challenge levied by the sheriff, all James had to say was:

“I have zero comment on the sheriff.”

Now, prior to James saying that he had “zero comment” on the sheriff, he did note that he in no way condones any violence toward police officers – which that is good that he said those words:

“I do not condone violence toward anyone. Police, black people, white people, anyone of color, anyone not of color, because that’s not going to ever make this world or America what we want it to be.”

Albeit James did also preface those statements with anecdotal instances where he claims to have witnessed police racially profiling black suspects, but he also noted the commonsense observation of not all police officers are “bad”:

“I’m not saying that all cops are bad because, I actually…throughout high school and things of that nature, and I’m around them all the time, and they’re not all bad.”

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