Man Could Face Charges for Posting 'Put Wings On Pigs' to Facebook

Human Rights

A western Massachusetts man could face charges for a message he posted to Facebook. Charles DiRosa, a 27-year-old resident of Chicopee, wrote “Put Wings On Pigs” on his Facebook post, and police say that those words are a threat to commit a crime.

The phrase is similar to the one Ismaaiyl Brinsley put on his Instagram account shortly before ambushing and killing two New York City police officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, on Saturday. Brinsley later committed suicide, shooting himself as police closed in on him in a nearby subway station.

A link to DiRosa’s message was given to the Chicopee Police Department by an anonymous tipster. "We are not looking on Facebook," said police spokesperson Michael Wilk. "Someone sent us a message to let us know and that they were concerned because they don't want to see us hurt."

"In the eyes of every police officer in America today, 'Putting wings on pigs' is a threat," said Wilk. The town’s detective bureau has filed a complaint in court. DiRosa will be summonsed to court for “Threat To Commit a Crime.” If the court determines the police’s complaint is valid, a trial will be scheduled.

A "Threat To Commit a Crime" is itself, a crime in Massachusetts. However it is not clear whether DiRosa's message meets the legal standards of a threat because of its vagueness and since it may be hard to prove that it targeted a specific individual or group.  

The police have also sent out an advisory to other law enforcement agencies in the state. It features a photo of DiRosa’s Facebook account and says that he’s “currently on probation.” However, the advisory does not mention what DiRosa had been convicted for previously. And while the advisory says that DiRosa is not known to be in the possession of firearms, it urges police officers to use extreme caution in an encounters with him.

Social media has been a hotbed of threats and heated messages from all sides on the recent tensions between police departments and the public. Earlier this month, a San Jose Police Officer, Phillip White, posted messages threatening activists on Twitter. White was suspended after activists complained to the department about his messages. 

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