Collinsville residents say they were 'SLAPP'ed for speaking out
Three Collinsville residents facing charges of ordinance violations have filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the city is using the violations to punish them for speaking out at public meetings, according to the Edgar County Watchdogs (ECW).
The ECW argued on its Illinois Leaks website that the allegations are an example of a SLAPP: strategic lawsuit against public participation.
“SLAPPs are generally meritless lawsuits use in retaliation against a party for attempting to participate in government by exercising their rights to free speech, free association and the freedom to petition their government,” ECW co-founder John Kraft wrote. “These suits are aimed at prohibiting and punishing citizens who exercise these rights.”
According to the motion, the residents accused of ordinance violations have been outspoken in their criticism of current city officials, opposing some of the City Council’s actions and the performance and record of particular councilmen. The defendants also supported candidates who opposed some current officials during the last election, Kraft wrote.
The motion also alleges that the violations do not include dates or pertinent facts to prove their conclusion and that the city does not follow its own zoning and violation ordinances.