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Monroe Co. Sheriff Denies 'Hiding' Facebook Comments Amid ACLU Lawsuit

Exterior of the Monroe County Sheriff's Department building, summer.

(WTIU/WFIU News)

The Indiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit last week against the Monroe County Sheriff on behalf of a woman who says the sheriff’s Facebook page “hid” her comments about a controversial immigration enforcement policy from view.

Bloomington immigration lawyer Christie Popp exchanged several comments with Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain on post from the official Monroe County Sheriff’s Department’s Facebook page using her business account – “Popp & Bullman – Attorneys-at-Law.” When she went back to look at them, she says, they were gone.

“And I realized that I was looking for my comments from my personal Facebook account, and I had commented on his page from my business Facebook account,” she says.

Popp says all she wants is for the sheriff’s office to be open and truthful about their policies concerning reporting crimes to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The lawsuit says the sheriff hid Popp’s comments while allowing comments that were “favorable to or supportive of” him and his administration’s policies.

Swain says neither he nor anyone in his administration purposely hid or deleted any comments.

“The comments against the policy on ICE generated a wide margin of people that supported the policy, versus those who were against it," he says. "So, by making a comment of that, it just generated more support for my office. So the motivation to do that is just not there.”

In the post, the sheriff’s department says the office only notifies ICE in the case of very serious crimes, which Popp disputed.

Swain says he believes the lawsuit is a retaliation effort by Popp in protest of his ICE notification policy.

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