To hear his lawyer talk, Arthur Jordan is a young man whose timing and judgment could not have been worse.
But is the man accused of threatening Buffalo police officers really a violent criminal?
“This is still the United States,” Assistant Federal Public Defender John F. Humann said of Jordan. “We still have free speech.”
Jordan, 23, who was arrested last week, is accused of posting Facebook messages encouraging the killing of Buffalo police officers. He posted the messages after two African-American men, one in Louisiana and the other in Minnesota, died at the hands of police.
One of the messages, according to court papers, was “Let’s start killin’ police. Let’s see how dey like it.”
At Jordan’s first appearance in federal court Thursday, Humann asked U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder Jr. to toss out the charges against his client and suggested that his actions were protected by the First Amendment.
He also said Jordan was angry about the deaths in Minnesota and Louisiana but never intended any harm to police officers here.
“This is just a young person using bad judgment,” he told Schroeder. “Is the timing bad? Yes.”
Schroeder denied Humann’s request and pointed to Jordan’s own words – the Facebook messages he posted – and the environment in which they were made to order him detained.
“There is probable cause for this charge to be made,” Schroeder said.
Jordan, who police allege is a gang member, is already in state custody on a separate charge and will appear again in federal court in two weeks.
In asking Schroeder to deny Jordan bail, prosecutor Wei Xiang pointed to the Facebook messages and the emojis that Jordan attached to suggest his threats were credible.
“They’re of an officer with a revolver to his head,” Xiang said of the emojis.
He also reminded the judge that Jordan, who has a previous gun possession conviction, was found with a loaded handgun when he was arrested by Buffalo police last week.
After his arrest, Xiang said, Jordan spoke to police officers and, at one point, wondered aloud whether they were nervous when they came to his front door to arrest him.
“He’s taunting them,” Xiang said. “He said, ‘You all look scared.’ ”
Court papers indicate that investigators first saw Jordan’s Facebook messages July 7, just two days after the fatal shooting of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and a day after Philando Castile shot to death by a police officer in Minnesota.
Later that day, FBI agents spoke with Jordan’s father and indicated that he also confirmed his son’s Facebook messages. Agents say he also told them that he encouraged his son to remove them. The father was in court Thursday but declined to comment.
At the time of his arrest, Jordan was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, obstructing governmental administration and resisting arrest. A new charge – interstate communication of threat to injure – was added last week.