By Chris Halsne
KIRO 7 Eyewitness News
RENTON, Wash. — The Renton City Prosecutor wants to send a cartoonist to jail for mocking the police department in a series of animated Internet videos.
The “South-Park”-style animations parody everything from officers having sex on duty to certain personnel getting promoted without necessary qualifications. While the city wants to criminalize the cartoons, First Amendment rights advocates say the move is an “extreme abuse of power.”
Only KIRO Team 7 Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne holds a key document that really lays bare the city’s intent. The document was quietly filed in King County Superior Court last week. It’s a search warrant accusing an anonymous cartoon creator, going by the name of Mr. Fiddlesticks, of cyberstalking (RCW 9.61.260). The Renton Police Department and the local prosecutor got a judge to sign off as a way to uncover the name of whoever is behind the parodies. Halsne talked with three nationally respected legal experts who believe the use of the cyberstalking statute is likely stomping on the constitution.
The series of web-based short cartoons feature a mustachioed street cop and a short-haired female bureaucrat. The dry, at times, witty banter between the two touches on some embarrassing insider secrets, some of which seem to match up with internal affairs investigations on file within Renton PD.
Uploaded by strangervideo on Aug 5, 2011
These are a series of nine cartoons created by an anonymous “Mr. Fiddlesticks” — most likely a Renton Police Department employee — that the Renton PD claims amount to cyberstalking because of their “harassing and embarrassing” nature.