Activists hoping to be let off with a slap on the wrist after being arrested for disrupting last weekend’s Straight Pride Parade have run into resistance from Boston judges.
Two Boston Municipal Court judges refused to throw out the charges against the 18 defendants who appeared Tuesday in court, frustrating defense attorneys and prosecutors who sought to have minor charges dismissed, as reported by local news outlets.
Judge Thomas Horgan also told out-of-towners that they risked 90-day jail sentences if they set foot in Boston for any reason other than court and lawyer appointments, rejecting one defendant’s request to visit relatives in the city’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
“Stay out of Boston,” said Judge Horgan, according to the Boston Herald.
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Boston police arrested 36 people Saturday on charges ranging from disorderly conduct to assault and battery on a police officer after more than 1,000 counter-protesters, including bands of antifa activists, descended on the Straight Pride Parade, which drew an estimated 200 participants.
In a separate courtroom, Judge Richard Sinnott turned down motions by prosecutors to have low-level charges dismissed against defendants with no criminal record in exchange for community service.
The decision drew the ire of Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who accused him of punishing protesters for exercising their First Amendment rights.
“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,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Meanwhile, Larry Calderone, vice president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, praised the courtroom outcome, noting that many of those arrested came from outside the city and state and accusing them of coming to “create havoc.”
He said the four officers injured have not been able to return to work yet, and that the union wants the offenders “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
“A lot of the assaults that happened during the day, you only knew of a few of them,” Mr. Calderone told reporters outside the courtroom. “Many officers were assaulted throughout the day with bottles of urine being thrown at them, bottles of chemicals, bottles of unidentified material, rocks.”
The city is looking into complaints that police used excessive force during the event.
“Multiple times I asked why I was arrested, he said ‘for calling me a pig,’” Joshua Abrams, who was charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, told WBZ-TV before his arraignment. “Well, that’s my First Amendment right to do so.”
Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts Democrat, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, New York Democrat, urged supporters to contribute to a bail fund for the protesters on FundRazr, which raised nearly $25,000 before being closed.
The Boston police union has asked Ms. Pressley to withdraw her support for the protesters, saying her fundraising effort “serves only to encourage criminal and disruptive behaviors.”
The parade, sponsored by Super Happy Fun America, was accused of being homophobic and racist — Ms. Ocasio-Cortez called the event a “white supremacist parade” — which organizers disputed.
“Of the twelve speakers on our stage, five were African American, four were women, and three were African American women,” said Super Happy Fun America in an online statement.
The group also pointed out that its grand marshal was right-wing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, who is openly gay.
“The only connections to racism and bigotry are in the deluded minds of protesters who all repeat the same mantra against those with whom they disagree,” said the group.