Ocasio-Cortez Averts Courtroom Face-Off Over Twitter Block

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., listens during a House Financial Services Committee hearing with leaders of major banks on Capitol Hill in Washington on April 10, 2019. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) – U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has unblocked a former New York politician on Twitter and apologized to him, just before she was to take the stand in his First Amendment lawsuit against her. 

A former Democratic assemblyman, Dov Hikind had filed the suit in July after 30-year-old Ocasio-Cortez blocked him on the social media platform. Monday morning, he held a joyful press conference that he live-streamed on Twitter. 

“You want to be in elected office, don’t be afraid of what people have to say to you,” said Hikind, 69, the founder of Americans Against Anti-Semitism.

Ocasio-Cortez was called to testify in the Brooklyn federal court case Tuesday but will no longer attend, Hikind’s lawyer Jacob Weinstein confirmed. 

The controversy came after Ocasio-Cortez commented that migration centers on the U.S.-Mexico border were “concentration camps.” 

As someone whose mother was held at Auschwitz, Hikind said Monday, he took offense to the comparison. 

“It was an incredibly egregious, insensitive, uneducated, disrespectful comment to the memory of the 6 million who were murdered by the Nazis,” he said, adding that he sued almost immediately after she blocked him. The suit also came hours after a federal appeals court ruled that President Donald Trump cannot block critics on Twitter.

The lawsuit did not specify what specifically precipitated the blocking, but Hikind admits he has been critical of the freshman congresswoman on several occasions. 

“I could not be part of the conversation, I could not share my thoughts, my mouth was closed shut,” he said Monday. 

The New York Post broke the news of Ocasio-Cortez’s Twitter reversal Monday and quoted her apology. 

“I have reconsidered my decision to block Dov Hikind from my Twitter account,” the statement begins. “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.”

In his press conference, Hikind invited Ocasio-Cortez to his community in Brooklyn to meet Holocaust survivors and let them share with her “what a concentration camp means to a survivor of the Holocaust,” he said. The congresswoman represents parts of the Bronx and Queens.

Hikind’s lawyer Jacob Zev Weinstein said the parties will still meet in court Tuesday at 11 a.m. to discuss the settlement and the congresswoman’s statement. 

Lawyers for Ocasio-Cortez did not respond to phone calls or an email for confirmation or comment Monday morning. 

The lawsuit also asked for Ocasio-Cortez to cover Hikind’s attorney fees, though Weinstein would not comment Monday on whether that was a condition of the settlement.

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