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Massachusetts Man Headed to Court For Posting 'Put Wings On Pigs' To Facebook

Police are treating DiRosa's social media comment as a serious threat after then killing of two NYPD cops by a gunman who had posted the same phrase online.
Photo via Chicopee Police Department/Facebook

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A man from Chicopee, Massachusetts has been summoned to appear in court on a charge of a threat to commit a crime over a Facebook post. Charles DiRosa, 27, posted the phrase "Put wings on pigs" to his profile.

The post was taken by police to be a serious threat of violence against law enforcement officers in the wake of the fatal shooting of two New York Police Department officers in Brooklyn on Saturday. The gunman in that shooting, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who also killed himself, had posted on Instagram, "I'm putting wings on pigs today."

A judge is set to determine whether DiRosa's Facebook post could be considered a valid threat and whether his case will proceed to trial.

"In the eyes of every police officer in America today, 'putting wings on pigs' is a threat," Chicopee Police Department Spokesman Michael Wilk said. DiRosa's post, which frames the phrase in quotation marks, does not detail any specific plan or explicit intent.

What constitutes a valid threat posted online is a point of current legal contention in the Supreme Court. On the whole, the author of the material must intend for their words to be a threat to the specified target. A case under consideration by the Supreme Court of a man who posted violent rap lyrics about his ex-wife and others to Facebook will determine whether the legal standard for threatening speech, not protected by the First Amendment, should be intent, or whether an objective observer would read the message as a valid threat.