From a plastic bag tax to healthcare to funding for public schools, longtime Bay Ridge resident Sally McMahon says she disagrees with State Senator Marty Golden's positions on just about everything. And for months she let him know it on Facebook until she says she was blocked late last year.
"We're his constituents. We have a right to express our feelings about the legislation and the behavior that he exhibits," McMahon said.
McMahon is one of about a dozen who say they've been silenced on social media platforms by either Senator Golden, Congressman Dan Donovan or Assembly member Nicole Malliotakis.
"We decided to put together an open letter to those three representatives and a petition in order to say you should respect people's right to dissent. You should respect people's free speech rights," said South Brooklyn Progressive Resistance Organizer Jennifer Gaboury.
The open letter and petition which were created this month are posted online on change.org and signed by five community groups including Bay Ridge for Social Justice and Fight Back Bay Ridge. Their goal is to pressure the elected officials to keep the lines of communication open.
"Social media is now like a town hall that's on 24 hours a day and people literally are being iced out of this really important public space," Gaboury said.
Golden, Malliotakis and Donovan all say they blocked followers because they used profanity or abusive language not because of their political views. But they also say they're now reversing course based on two recent court decisions including one against President Trump that prohibit public officials from blocking people and deleting comments. It's a decision the democracy reform group Common Cause says is just.
"When politicians are using officials government accounts those are considered official public records and therefore blocking a constituent is really inappropriate for politicians," said Common Cause Vice President of Communications Scott Swenson.
McMahon says Golden hasn't gotten around to unblocking her yet but she along with others on the petition say they'll take legal measures if that's what it takes to be heard.