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Charges against Straight Pride counter-protesters won’t be dropped

Nick Duffy September 4, 2019
Boston Police officers arrest an anti-parade demonstrator during the "Straight Pride" parade in Boston, on August 31, 2019.

Boston Police officers arrest an anti-parade demonstrator during the "Straight Pride" parade in Boston, on August 31, 2019. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty)

A judge has upheld charges against dozens of people in relation to clashes at the Straight Pride event in Boston.

36 people were arrested at the event in Boston on Saturday (August 31), amid clashes between alt-right Straight Pride marchers, anti-fascist counter-protesters and police.

Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins had argued for a lenient approach for people arrested while protesting against the Straight Pride march, seeking to get charges dismissed for those with no prior record of disorderly conduct.

Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Straight Pride counter-protesters

However, the decision has brought her into conflict with Boston Municipal Court judge Richard Sinnott, who has opted to ignore the request to dismiss charges.

Of the 16 cases that went before Sinnott on Tuesday (September 3), Boston Magazine reports that prosecutors had asked for charges to be dismissed against nine people.

However, the judge upheld nearly all of the charges, and only agreed to throw out two cases.

Boston Police officers arrest an anti-parade demonstrator during the "Straight Pride" parade in Boston, on August 31, 2019.
Boston Police officers arrest an anti-parade demonstrator during the “Straight Pride” parade in Boston, on August 31, 2019. (JOSEPH PREZIOSO/AFP/Getty Images)

The decision was condemned by Rollins, who said in a statement: “By compelling arraignment in every case, the judge punished the exercise of individuals’ First Amendment right to protest.

“At my request, prosecutors used the discretion constitutionally allocated to the executive branch to triage cases and use our resources most effectively to protect public safety.

“Make no mistake: some people were appropriately arraigned and will be held accountable for actions that put the safety of the public and law enforcement at risk.

“For those people now tangled in the criminal justice system for exercising their right to free speech—many of whom had no prior criminal record—I will use the legal process to remedy the judge’s overstepping of his role.”

Squad lawmakers advertise bail fund for Straight Pride counter-protesters

Democratic congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, members of the left-wing group of lawmakers known as “The Squad,” have sought to help those arrested make bail.

Sharing a bail fundraiser, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “One way to support the local LGBTQ community impacted by Boston’s white supremacist parade?

“Contribute to the Bail Fund for the activists who put themselves on the line protecting the Boston community.”

The stance has led to criticism from the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, who wrote to Pressley “to strongly protest your decision to urge your constituents to contribute to a bail fund for protesters arrested this weekend during the Straight Pride rally in downtown Boston. ”

The group’s head Michael Leary claimed: “The individuals who were arrested on Saturday were not peaceful protesters but were committing crimes of assault against Boston Police Officers.

“These officers were screamed at, abused and fought by these so-called peaceful protesters. Your actions in support of these individuals serves only to encourage criminal and disruptive behaviors such as those suffered by my members this weekend.”

Leary added: “The BPPA supports the right of free speech, but free speech does not include the right to abuse and assault the men and women who are appointed to keep the peace.”

More: Boston, LGBT, straight pride

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