Boston, MA – The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that the Boston Municipal Court judge who refused to dismiss charges against protesters who fought with police during the Straight Pride Parade did so in violation of the State Constitution.
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins accused Boston Municipal Court Judge Richard Sinnott of “overstepping his role,” after he refused to go along with her office’s motions to dismiss cases against many of the three dozen protesters who were charged, the Boston Globe reported.
Rollins subsequently asked the high court to intervene, according to USA Today.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Justice Frank Gaziano agreed with Rollins, and alleged that Sinnott’s denial of the prosecutors’ motions violated the state constitution’s separation of powers between the executive and judicial branches.
“The prosecutor's sole authority to determine which cases to prosecute, and when not to pursue a prosecution, has been affirmed repeatedly by this court since the beginning of the 19th century,” Gaziano wrote, according to USA Today.
He added that Sinnott had “no authority to ‘deny’” the prosecutors’ request to abandon the cases.
Rollins declared that the State Supreme Court’s ruling provided “clarity” for future cases.
“We thought we had it but now it is crystal clear that we have the authority to do what it is that we did,” she announced, according to USA Today. “We will continue to do so.”
Rollins called the dispute “a colossal waste of time,” and argued that “anyone who’s gone to law school knows that there’s a separation of powers.”
Four Boston police officers were injured during altercations with angry protesters, many of whom were antifa who accused police of unjustly protecting those who were participating in the parade, the Boston Globe reported.
Some of the protesters blocked roadways to prevent motorcycle officers from being able to disperse the unruly crowd.
Protesters also attacked officers with “bottles of urine, bottles of chemicals, bottles of unidentified materials and rocks,” Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association (BPPA) Vice President Lawrence Calderone told WBUR.
Police deployed pepper spray during some of the altercations that ensued, and 36 people were ultimately arrested, the Boston Globe reported.
Sinnott repeatedly denied nearly every attempt prosecutors made to dismiss charges against those arrested during the clashes.
One of the cases involved a 26-year-old man who allegedly formed a human chain with other protesters.
Prosecutor Jessica Erickson told the judge that the suspect’s behavior was “not appropriate,” but she argued that the community would not be any safer as a result of prosecuting him.
“Not appropriate?” Sinnott responded before refusing to dismiss the charge. “It sounds like he picked up the wrong fork at dinner.”
Sinnott agreed to dismiss only two pending cases – one against a 31-year-old man charged with resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, and another against a 63-year-old woman from Vermont accused of disorderly conduct, the Boston Globe reported.
Rollins blasted Sinnott, and defended the prosecutors’ attempts to have the charges dismissed.
“The judge punished the exercise of individuals’ First Amendment right to protest,” the district attorney declared. “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.”
A second judge, Judge Thomas Horgan, also refused to dismiss assault and battery on a peace officer charges against three protesters, the Boston Globe reported.
Horgan did allow them to be released on their own recognizance, and prohibited them from going to the downtown area except for work obligations.
Defense attorney Christopher Basso said he is representing some of the protesters voluntarily.
“I think the general flavor of the room is that not even the district attorney’s office is deeply invested in these cases,” he told the Boston Globe.
U.S. Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley have both thrown their support behind the protesters, and urged others to follow their lead by donating to a fund to pay for their legal expenses.
The fund raised over $24,600 before it ended on Sept. 1.
Calderone noted that four officers were injured during alterations with the protesters, and that they are all off the streets recovering from their injuries.
The union vice president said that many of the people who were arrested are not even residents of the Boston area.
“We think that these offenders that are here, most of them outside of the city of Boston, not residents of Boston, came here as agitators,” Calderone told the Boston Globe. “Here for a specific reason, here to create havoc, not only for the Police Department but for the general citizenry that are around, for the visitors that are in downtown Boston trying to enjoy the last weekend of the summer.”
During the parade, self-proclaimed antifa member John Crowley said that violence was the only way to handle those who were marching in the Straight Pride Parade, FOX News reported.
“We’re covered in black so when we attack these guys we can’t be prosecuted,” Crowley boasted. “They are fascists, 100 percent. How else are you going to get them to shut up?”
Meanwhile, videos showing officers deploying pepper spray during altercations with the protesters have led to complaints about how police handled the situation, the Boston Globe reported.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued a statement assuring everyone that his office takes “any accusation of police misconduct seriously.”
Walsh further alleged that the Straight Pride Parade organizers were the ones who caused discord by holding their event in the first place.
“I also want to be clear that sowing division between people is exactly the goal of Straight Pride organizers, and I will not stand for it,” Walsh said, according to the Boston Globe. “Just as the people of Boston work to make our values of love, inclusion, and acceptance known to all, our public safety officials work tirelessly to keep people safe from harm every single day of the year, and that will never change.”
Approximately 200 marchers participated in the parade from Copley Square to City Hall Plaza.
They were confronted by approximately 600 protesters along the way.
Rollins said that eight of the 36 people who were originally arrested will still faces charges, USA Today reported.
Those suspects were all charged with either carrying a dangerous weapon, affray, accosting, assault, or assault and batter on a police officer.