Teen Arrested for Threatening to Kill Police Officers on Twitter

A 17-year-old boy from Fort Worth, Texas, has been arrested for threatening to kill police over Twitter. Montrae Toliver, who is an athlete at Northwest High School and reportedly doesn't have a criminal record, is being treated like a potential threat. He posted a photo of a replica gun pointed at a police car with a caption that read, "Should I do it? They don't care for a black male anyways!" Joke or not, police are taking this social media post very seriously.


Toliver reportedly sent a separate tweet from his account that claimed the gun he used in the photo was actually an Airsoft replica -- so, basically, the weapon can't technically be used to kill anyone.

But that isn't the point.

Someone saw the teen's photo on Twitter and took a screenshot of it, which he or she then sent to the Fort Worth police department's Facebook page. Considering this happened just days after two New York City police officers were killed while sitting in a police car by a deranged person who announced on Instagram he was planning to kill police, does anyone actually believe the teen shouldn't have been arrested and questioned for this dumb, frightening, misguided post?

The teen has been booked into Fort Worth jail and has a bail set at $500. Tamara Pena, a spokeswoman for the police department, has confirmed that the "rifle" used in the photo wasn't real and that weapons weren't found in his house, but that authorities feel people need to understand this isn't a "joke and it can be taken seriously."

More from The Stir: Teen Who Posted Threat to Shoot Up School Was Just Joking, Say Cops

Freedom of speech is not a good justification for this teen's actions -- neither is his age. As we all know, a 17-year-old is as capable of murder as an adult, and everyone needs to be reminded that we can't just make vague or real threats toward others on social media and then hide behind the First Amendment.

Toliver is one of several people who are learning the hard way that they don't have the god-given right to make others feel their lives may be in danger just because they feel inclined to share how badass they are with the world. On Monday, a Brooklyn grand jury failed to indict a 16-year-old boy named Yasin Shearin for posting "Let's Kill the Cops" on his Facebook page. The child's mother claims he didn't know what he was doing and was being treated unfairly and that children will be children. Like Toliver, Shearin reportedly posted the message beside a photo of a gun pointed at a police officer's head.

In all likelihood, Toliver will not be indicted. And perhaps he shouldn't be -- I understand he isn't an adult and that teens often do and say stupid things. But I hope the simple fact that he was arrested makes others stop and think before they post threatening messages that they then claim are examples of free speech.

Do you think this teen deserves to be arrested?


Image via Andrew Ratto/Flickr

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