The Washington Post

D.C. political protesters plead not guilty in April demonstration

Seventeen District residents and supporters arrested in two separate political protests in April pled not guilty to two misdemeanor charges of failure to obey a police officer and unlawful assembly Thursday in a hearing in D.C. Superior Court.

The defendants protested on Capitol Hill for voting rights and complaints over federal spending.

More than 40 protestors were arrested last month in the demonstration organized by the activist group DC Vote, including D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) and D.C. Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D-At Large) and Council members Yvette M. Alexander (D-Ward 7), Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), Michael A. Brown (I-At Large), Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Sekou Biddle (D-At Large).

Most of those arrested, including Gray and the Council members, paid a $50 fine and gave up their right to contest the charges. Most were not at the hearing. But Alexander and Biddle were in the audience, along with dozens of supporters, many wearing “taxation without representation” t-shirts.

“I’m here to show my support for my fellow arrestees,” Alexander said.

At the hearing, nine of the 17 protesters paid a $100 fine, a $50 increase since the arrest. Those who chose not to pay the fine have until June 28, when the next hearing is scheduled, to pay or face trial unless prosectors chose to drop charges. If convicted, the protesters could face a maximum of 90 days in jail.

During the hearing, Magistrate Judge Richard Ringell said it was “good to see people stand for what they believe in.”

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.


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