Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has apologized to a former Democratic New York state assemblyman who sued her for blocking him on Twitter.
Her apology is part of a settlement regarding a lawsuit filed in July by Dov Hikind. He said Ocasio-Cortez blocked him on Twitter after he criticized her June comments comparing migrant detention camps at the southern border to concentration camps. He claimed she violated his First Amendment right by blocking him on Twitter and cited a July ruling by an appeals court that said President Donald Trump violated the First Amendment by blocking Twitter users.
Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, said blocking Hikind “was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values that I cherish.”
“I have reconsidered my decision to block Dov Hikind from my Twitter account,” she said in a statement provided to CNN by her campaign. “Mr. Hikind has a First Amendment right to express his views and should not be blocked for them. In retrospect, it was wrong and improper and does not reflect the values I cherish. I sincerely apologize for blocking Mr. Hikind. 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.”
Hikind told CNN on Tuesday that the apology, “which is clear and unequivocal, is wonderful.” He also said the settlement sends a message about freedom of speech.
“The message to Trump, the message to AOC — who’s a progressive — is that freedom of speech is a huge thing in this country,” he said.
During a live Periscope video on Monday, Hikind said he hopes Ocasio-Cortez’s statement can start a “dialogue.”
“I hope that this can be the beginning of a dialogue between Ocasio-Cortez, myself, and others,” he said. “And 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 camp means to the survivors of the Holocaust.”
He also called for elected officials who have blocked people on Twitter to unblock them.
“Every public official needs to unblock the public from following them on Twitter,” he said. “Every elected official. You want to be an elected official? Don’t be afraid of what people have to say to you.”
Jacob Weinstein, an attorney for Hikind, told CNN on Tuesday, “This is the ideal result for this particular case.” He added that the freshman congresswoman has unblocked Hikind and did not provide additional details of the settlement.
“This case was all about enforcing my clients First Amendment rights and the best result is when the politician realizes that they did something wrong and reverses that action,” he said.
Ocasio-Cortez said in August she had blocked fewer than 20 accounts for “ongoing harassment.”
“People are free to speak whatever classist, racist, false, misogynistic, bigoted comments they’d like,” she tweeted. “They do not have the right to force others to endure their harassment and abuse.”