Buffalo Woman Arrested for Threatening Facebook Posts

A Buffalo woman was arrested after making a series of threatening Facebook posts against the Pride Festival at Canalside. Police say that Rosalyn Colligan’s posts violate a state law against making a terroristic threat. First Amendment attorney Paul Cambria spoke to WGRZ about the posts and whether Colligan’s arrest violates her freedom of speech. For the full story, watch the video below or visit the WGRZ website.

Posts threatened violence at pride event

WGRZ reports that Buffalo police arrested 40-year-old Rosalyn Colligan after “a series of posts threatening to come to the [gay] pride event at Canalside and murder people.” Captain Jeff Rinaldo of the Buffalo Police Department explained that these posts were directed at specific people whom Colligan reportedly believed were going to attend the event and that the posts “threatened to ‘shoot the event up’ as well as to bring a series of knives and commit heinous acts.” Police say that Colligan violated a New York State law that prohibits making terrorist threats. Part of this statute requires that the defendant causes a reasonable expectation or fear of their imminent commission of harm against others.

Mr. Cambria told WGRZ that posting these threats “is enough to get you charged.” He added, however, that “whether or not it’s enough to prove a violation of the statute beyond a reasonable doubt is another story.”

Intent to inflict ‘terror’

According to WGRZ, Colligan was charged with a violent D-felony, which is punishable by two to seven years in prison. Captain Rinaldo informed WGRZ that, although Colligan was not found to be in possession of any knives or guns, she does not actually have to possess them to be charged. “The intent of the statute is to not let people inflict ‘terror’ in the population. And whether or not you can carry out what you say, you can still create a belief and an opinion and a fear of ‘terror’ which would cause people to react, and that’s what these statutes are designed to accommodate,” Mr. Cambria explained.

About Paul J. Cambria, Jr.

The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.