In yet another scene from a dystopian human rights horror show, six anti-racist protesters have been charged with an assortment of felonies, arrested in spectacular fashion, and kept in inhumane conditions in local jails.
The charges against the protesters are absolutely nuts and include things like felony theft charges for allegedly taking some racist counter-protesters’ racist signs and felony kidnapping charges because some cops were inside of the police building and couldn’t leave during a protest outside.
Ah, America 2020.
Denver and Aurora have been the sites of a number of anti-racist protests since Minneapolis police killed George Floyd. They increased after more information was released about the death of 23 year-old Elijah McClain, who Aurora officers killed in August 2019. McClain begged for his life as police officers tackled him and held him down while he vomited and said he couldn’t breathe. After he was already handcuffed, restrained, and face down on the pavement, McClain was injected with 500 mg of ketamine, more than 1.5 times the dose for his height and weight. He went into cardiac arrest and was pronounced braindead at the hospital.
Like cops all across the country, Denver and Aurora police officers have reacted to protests about police violence with … more police violence.
They also, apparently, hold quite a grudge. For months, they have been conducting surveillance on the protesters, seeking to charge them with crimes. Now, Lillian House, Joel Northam, Terrance Roberts, Whitney Lucero, Trey Quinn, and John Ruch have been charged with a wide variety of felonies and misdemeanors that could keep them imprisoned for decades if convicted.
As is often the case with political prisoners, most of the protesters are members of subversive political parties. House and Northam are organizers for the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL), which has organized massive police brutality protests in Aurora and Denver this year. Roberts is a well-known local activist and co-founder of the Front Line Party for Revolutionary Action.
As PSL said on its Facebook page:
Police agencies in the Denver area arrested anti-war organizers in a coordinated assault today. People were arrested in a Home Depot parking lot, at their homes, and after they were pulled over while driving. Those arrested were the leaders to demand justice for Elijah McClain, who was brutally murdered by the Aurora Police Department. They are still in jail, with the exception of one person. They are facing multiple felony charges and years in prison in an obvious frame-up aimed at stopping the movement for justice for Elijah McClain. Drop the charges!
Here are all of the charges, compiled by the Denver Post (names bolded to make it easier to read):
House: inciting a riot, conspiracy to incite a riot, theft of a sign, conspiracy to commit theft, engaging in a riot, conspiracy to engage in a riot, obstructing a highway or passageway, conspiracy to obstruct a highway or passageway, attempted first-degree kidnapping, attempt to influence a public servant, obstructing government operations
Northam: inciting a riot, conspiracy to incite a riot, theft, conspiracy to commit theft, engaging in a riot, conspiracy to engage in a riot, obstructing a highway or passageway, conspiracy to obstruct highway or passageway, attempted first-degree kidnapping, obstructing government operations
Ruch: theft, conspiracy to commit theft
Roberts: engaging in a riot, conspiracy to engage in a riot, obstructing a highway or passageway, conspiracy to obstruct a highway or passageway, inciting a riot, obstructing government operations
Lucero: attempted first-degree kidnapping, inciting a riot, engaging in a riot, obstructing government operations
Quinn: Inciting a riot, engaging in a riot, false imprisonment, obstructing government operations
That adds up to to 33 felony charges and 34 misdemeanor charges for the six protesters.
It also looks like the Aurora and Denver Police Departments have been doing some pretty serious recon on the protesters, submitting
more than 30 pages long for those arrested [which] explain how Aurora police used recordings of livestreams, a transcript of a call between House and Aurora police Chief Vanessa Wilson and social media posts by protesters to build a case against those arrested.
As if all of that weren’t enough, the conditions of their confinement were fucking atrocious. According to PSL members and leaders, they were unconstitutionally kept from seeing a judge and kept in barbaric conditions.
Denver PSL activist Alexis Isabel detailed the six being arrested by a militarized police force (SWAT team and tanks!) that refused to show arrest warrants. They were then held in jail for eight days without a bond hearing, despite how the US Constitution requires the government to bring a person who has been arrested before a judge within 48 hours.
The jail conditions also sound incredibly constitutional. Alexis details House and Lucero being locked in a cell for 23 hours per day, with only one mask, surrounded by unmasked guards, and with no hand sanitizer or personal hygiene items. Northam, in a men’s jail, experienced similar unsanitary conditions. The Eighth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendments, of course, require the government to bring a criminal defendant before a judge “without delay,” which again means within 48 hours of arrest.
But, as we have learned time and time again, the law doesn’t apply to cops.
Absolutely all of this is a civil rights nightmare. Time and time again, police departments around the country have reacted to protests over police violence with more police violence. Cops remain above the law, free to kill without consequences, but GOD FORBID anyone try to bring attention to that injustice.
These are trumped-up charges that seek to punish a political enemy.
PSL has set up a petition demanding the charges be dropped and a legal aid and political support campaign fund.
[ Denver Post / Facebook / Alexis Isabel ]
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