Ocasio-Cortez Apologizes for Blocking Former New York Politician on Twitter

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
November 4, 2019 Updated: November 4, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) has settled a lawsuit with a former New York assemblyman that accused her of violating his first amendment rights when she blocked him on Twitter.

Dov Hikind, a former Democratic state assemblyman and the founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism, said the New York congresswoman had apologized and unblocked him on Twitter in an agreement on the lawsuit filed in a federal court in July.

“It’s a big victory for freedom of speech,” Hikind said in a statement. “The consequences of this case are much farther reaching than my own Twitter account because it affirms the Constitutional right of American citizens to directly petition those in positions of power without the threat of being shut out from conversations that affect everyday life.”

This comes a day before Ocasio-Cortez is scheduled to testify at the federal court to answer questions over why she blocked Hikind on the social media platform.

In a statement to media outlets, Ocasio-Cortez said her decision to block Hikind on Twitter was “wrong and improper” and that she “sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind.”

“Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them,” she said.

“Now and in the future, however, I reserve the right to block users who engage in actual harassment or exploit my personal/campaign account, @AOC, for commercial or other improper purposes,” she added.

Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign team did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Responding to Ocasio-Cortez’s statement, Hikind said in a press conference on Monday that he had been looking forward to hearing why the lawmaker had blocked him and hopes Ocasio-Cortez’s apology would be the first step to open up a dialogue with the congresswoman.

He also invited Ocasio-Cortez to meet with Holocaust survivors and hear their stories. Hikind said he was blocked by the congresswoman after he had reacted to her comments that likened migrant detainment centers near the southern border to “concentration camps” of the Holocaust.

“I invite the Congress member to come to my community, where you have so many Holocaust survivors, I’d like to take her and walk the streets and meet survivors and talk to them and let the survivors share with her what a concentration man means to a survivor of the Holocaust,” he said.

The lawsuit, which was filed on July 9, accused Ocasio-Cortez of excluding Twitter users who have criticized her and her positions as a Congresswoman by blocking them to suppress their views.

“This practice is unconstitutional and must end,” the complaint stated.

Hikind argued in his suit that Ocasio-Cortez’s @AOC account “regularly posts and engages in both news, events, political speech, and advocates for her positions” and as “an important public forum for speech.”

Ocasio-Cortez told reporters on Aug. 29 after a town hall meeting that she blocks Twitter users who she thinks are harassing her.

“I’ve blocked less than 20, and it’s for harassment, not for political views,” she said, reported the New York Post. “While people have a right to say whatever they want, they do not have a right to force me to hear it.”

Hikind’s attorney, Jacob Weinstein of Weinstein & Weinstein LLP, said at the press conference that the attorneys of both sides will meet in court on Tuesday to discuss the settlement details.

He said this case is important as it helps the legal community explore the importance of the first amendment in relation to the electronic age.

“This shows that, by using the courts, we’re able to help public officials recognize what the truth is and what the reality is, which is, first and foremost that the First Amendment cannot be trampled on,” he said. “It’s not something to be thrown on the side. It’s not something to be thrown away. And it needs to be something to be held in the highest esteem.”

The congresswoman’s popular personal @AOC account has more than 5.7 million followers, as of the time of writing. Ocasio-Cortez uses the @AOC account to posts about her policies like the Green New Deal and her political stances on a range of issues. The freshman congresswoman also maintains an official @RepAOC account, which only has 197,000 followers, as of the time of writing.

Along with Hikind, Ocasio-Cortez had blocked several prominent journalists and commentators from viewing her tweets including OANN’s Liz Wheeler and The Daily Wire’s Ryan Saavedra.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.