Here’s a weird Ferguson-related story from October that didn’t get a lot of attention nationally: The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a St. Louis city police officer named Keith Novara called the boss of a real estate agent named Leigh Maibes to inform him about “inciteful” messages she’d sent from her activism-oriented Twitter account, @stackizshort. She recorded a conversation with Novara in which he confirms that he made the call.
Novara says that he was giving the broker [Maibes’ boss] a “heads up” and communicating with him as part of his responsibilities as a South Patrol officer. Novara adds that he was warning Maibes’ boss that the phones at the business might be “blowing up,” from people upset about her tweets.
“Why did you think it was your place to do that?” Maibes asks.
“Some of the tweets that I was seeing were inciteful,” Novara said. “That’s why I just wanted to let him know.”
Here’s the conversation, from Oct. 15:
Novara doesn’t appear to have identified which particular tweets were objectionable. Maibes’ tweets from the time document her participation in protests and are generally critical of police tactics, though none appear to call for violence or other retaliation against officers.
The Post-Dispatch’s story from October said the police department was investigating Novara’s actions, which could be considered inappropriate because he contacted Maibes’ boss in an official capacity as an officer. No further updates on Novara’s status have been reported. A call to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department to inquire about the outcome of the investigation was not answered (as in, the “Media Relations” phone line rang indefinitely without being picked up or connecting to voice mail). Contacted via Twitter, Maibes said she does not know whether Novara was disciplined and has not been contacted by any police investigators.
A St. Louis Police Officers Association official named Jeff Roorda defended Novara at the time, arguing that his behavior was protected by the First Amendment. Roorda, who made news this weekend by demanding an apology from the St. Louis Rams after several Rams players made a “hands up” protest gesture, was fired from a police job in 2001 after being found to have lied on multiple official reports.