Charges Dismissed Against Black Lives Matter Protesters Who Blocked L.A. Freeway

Kate Mather, Los Angeles Times, May 12, 2016

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Attorneys representing the seven Black Lives Matter protesters have long called for the misdemeanor charges filed against their clients to be thrown out, saying the demonstrators were peacefully exercising their free speech rights. In March, jurors rejected some of the charges against some of protesters but could not agree on a verdict on all of the counts.

On Thursday, prosecutors said they would not seek another trial.

“We analyzed the results of the first trial and decided not to retry the cases,” said Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office.

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Nana Gyamfi, a lawyer who represented six of the seven protesters in the case, said the decision should signal to city prosecutors that they should stop filing charges against protesters and instead use their resources to address the complaints about excessive police force that prompted the demonstrations.

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The defendants–Rosa Clemente, Haewon Asfaw, Povi-Tamu Bryant, Sha Dixon, Todd Harris, Damon Turner and Jas Wade–were among 323 demonstrators arrested during protests over several days.

The group was accused of blocking the freeway near Alvarado Street on the morning of Nov. 26, 2014. They were ultimately charged with obstructing a thoroughfare and refusing to comply with lawful police orders, both misdemeanors.

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L.A. city prosecutors filed charges against 27 of those protesters–fewer than 9% of those arrested.

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